Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Micro-Strategies of Resistance (1). (Discussion Papers/Documents De Travail)

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Micro-Strategies of Resistance (1). (Discussion Papers/Documents De Travail)

Article excerpt

Micro-strategies of resistance are particular confrontations with and resistances to the local impositions of dominating power. These incremental moves are not assembled from direct confrontations but rather operate as discrete traces within a plurality of resistances. Through a feminist critique this paper explores the implications that such an approach to resistance practices may hold for a feminist project in terms of intersections of power relations and spatial practice.

Les micro-strategies de resistance constituent une forme de confrontation et de resistance bien particuliere vis-a-vis des impositions locales du pouvoir dominant. Ces actions ne decoulent pas de confrontations directes, mais operent plutot comme tracees discretes l'interieur d'une pluralite de resistances. A travers une critique feministe, cet article sonde les implications d'une telle approche aux pratiques de a resistance vis-a-vis d'un projet feministe, surtout en ce qui a trait a l'intersection de rapports de pouvoir et la configuration de l'espace.

Micro-strategies: space and architecture

The practice of all architects is to some extent an interpretation of the context in which they are located, whether this interpretation takes the form of tacit or explicit representation. This theoretical paper has evolved from research which explores the work of various architects and groups who, in the early 1980s, questioned political and/or professional orthodoxies in architecture around them. The scope of that larger study stretches wide, geographically and politically, including a number of countries in political transition such as South Africa, Russia, Romania and East Germany. The groups studied include the Paper Architects, Utopica, Form-Trans-Inform and Matrix. (2)

The enterprises of the kind I have explored tend to be politically motivated since they respond to the social and/or cultural condition within which they are situated, even if the material itself cannot, by definition, be strictly political. As Fredric Jameson writes, "No work of art or culture can set out to be political once and for all...for there can never be any guarantee it will be used in the way it demands." (3) In other words, even though a political reading can be made of the work, the work of art is "in itself inert." (4) In fact, in all the cases I have studied it is less the architecture or the art form which is deemed to be the ongoing location of protest than the actual act of creating them.

My search for these hidden practices was governed by a desire to study the response to an obliteration of opportunity either in actual building processes or in wider forms of expression. Such a search can prove arduous. Those practices which do not fit the stereotypes understood by mainstream culture tend never to make it into the media where their message might be disseminated, and can therefore be destined to obscurity. Through this research it became apparent that the nature of resistance is not always "radical" but sometimes needs to be indirect: as said before, composed of subtle slippages and subversions.

It is exactly these slippages and subversions that Steve Pile describes in Geographies of Resistance as "tiny micro-movements of resistance" (Pile, p. 29), assembled from the materials and practices of everyday life, that so strongly resonate with the views of Michel Foucault. In Power/Knowledge Foucault comments, "Power is employed and exercised through a netlike organisation. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power. They are not only its inert or consenting target they are always the elements of its articulation." (5)

Hence, for Foucault power is never wholly expressed on a global scale, only at local innumerable points as 'micro-powers' in an "endless network of power relations." (6) Foucault explains that "the overthrow of these micropowers does not obey the law of all or nothing. …

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