The Fuzzy Side of Publicness: Visualizing Street Politics of Everyday life through the Lens of Distance

Mohamed Saleh*, Gert de Roo, David Shim

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    108 Downloads (Pure)


    The description of public space usually hinges on two narratives of publicness: one narrative criticizes the State’s attempts to condition publicness on the basis of functionality, and the other denotes publicness with space that can be appropriated by ordinary people. However, there are no “pure” moments in which either narrative is neatly differentiated since they are simultaneously active, or fuzzy, in situations of everyday life. Exploring this fuzziness, we propose a visibility framework for studying the physical and social embodiment of publicness as a lived experience. The framework employs socio-spatial distance as a variable for interpreting the emergence of situations that promote urban justice. Based on visual ethnography in public spaces in Cairo and Alexandria, the framework allows us to interpret the multi-valence and uncertainty characterizing the fuzzy side of publicness. The article concludes with reflections on the tense interface of control and self-organization that animates the dynamics of street politics.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSpace and Culture
    Early online date21-Dec-2020
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Dec-2020

    Cite this