Author: anapatriciabourgeois

The Commuter Train as a Disciplinary Apparatus: Bodies and Order

Abstract Shot of the AMT train cabins

Abstract Shot of the AMT train cabins Photo: Ana Patricia Bourgeois

In “Discipline and Punish” (1975), Foucault focuses on the regulation of bodies and the question of power within particular institutions, using Bentham’s idea of the panopticon. Drawing upon Foucault’s interpretation of technologies of power, as well as Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological understanding of the environment, and Lefebvre’s idea from which politics and ideologies are embedded within spaces, this research project will focus on the commuter train as a disciplinary device, therefore adding an additional layer to Foucault’s argument. We believe that commuter trains tend to reinforce existing discourses around the orientation of our bodies within this particular space, therefore acting as a disciplinary device similar to the panopticon. We hope to arrive at a better understanding of this space by unpacking the different ways it forces us to behave, as well as the ways discipline is displayed. We believe that this research paper will fit within the greater discourse of this class about how our bodies relate to particular spaces and also about what kind of ideologies are at stake within such spaces. The commuter train doesn’t only help us to go from point A to point B; it is tightly related with old ideologies and follows important paradigmatic assumptions that have been perpetuated throughout the years about acceptable ways to behave within a public space.

*Want to learn more about our topic? Ask us the full copy! 

By Sarah Bibeau and Ana-Patricia Bourgeois


Bibliography (sample)

Foucault, Michel. “Panopticism.” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon, 1977. Pp.195-228. Print.

Harris, Richard. “Chapter 1-2.” Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. Pp. 3-45. Print.

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty. “The Experience of the Body and Classical Psychology.” In Mariam Fraser and Monica Greco (Eds.) The Body: A Reader. Pp. 52-54. London: Routledge.

Monahan, Torin. “SURVEILLANCE AS CULTURAL PRACTICE.” The Sociological Quarterly 52.4 (2011): 495-508. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Obermeyer, Nancy J. “Moving Violations: Data Privacy in Public Transit.” Geographical Review 97.3, Geosurveillance (2007): 351-64. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.



Blog Post 3: Spaces and Bodies Online – #LOVEYOURLINES

I already discussed briefly the #LOVEYOURLINE Instagram account, but I thought it would be suitable to follow the discussion of this online space for the third and final blog post. This time I’ll be more critical and analytical of the subject matter.


Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.42.16 PM

#LOVEYOURLINE is an Instagram growing community (+108K followers) that aims to inspire women all over the world who lives with stretch marks. The black and white photos can sometimes be very graphic, since there is a lot of nudity, but it is not aimed to be sexual but testimonial. The account displays ‘real’ women bodies sent from consented women to the page admin. Here I mean ‘real’ bodies compared to what we often see in the media: bodies that are digitally modified to enhance and sexualize women. This approach helps to bring awareness to women to make them realize that they are not the only ones who lives with skin covered in stretch marks.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.43.55 PMAs previously seen in class, Instagram tends to have double-standards when it comes to women bodies because censorship promote, as they say, a “comfortable experience”. Systems such as the Instagram community guidelines have been in place because every types of bodies can have access to the World Wide Web. For this reason, ‘non-normative’ bodies disrupt online spaces and thus, are being censored. By doing this, I believe Instagram promotes stigma around important issues of  women self-image. Since Instagram allows certain bodies to have more attention, how does that shape our perception of bodies in online spaces? This is what I will investigate in this blog post. But certainly, Instagram must consider how we conceptualize bodies and interrogate the ideas of natural/beauty/etc. before censoring any kind of excluded bodies.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.42.51 PM#LOVEYOURLINE is an interesting case because, clearly, Instagram is an online space exclusionary to certain bodies. However, this page promotes the idea that every kind of bodies are accepted: black, white, teenagers, mothers, etc. This shapes our perception that, when Instagram is confronted to a supportive global community account, even if it displays non-conventional body types, it is okay to be shared. Why? We can refer here to Lefebvre’s Differential Space:  ”(…) a new space (differential space) cannot be born (produced) unless it accentuates differences” (293). Here, #LOVEYOURLINE function as an online differential space that generate new diverse relations that foreground and emphasizes shared differences, and more specifically, from the experiences of women.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.57.42 PM#LOVEYOURLINE is also a special place that exists online because the testimonials are the ways in which the images are described for viewers. Therefore, from a phenomenological point of view: ”(…) the body no longer conceived as an object of the world, but as our means of communications with it, to the world no longer conceived as a collection of determinate objects, but as the horizon latent in all our experience (…)” (54). From their lived experience, #LOVEYOURLINE enable women who share the same struggles to connect together and build a community. This way, the viewers participation on the online space has an impact on their day-to-day lives and their own perception of their bodies, because they know they are not alone.


1. How can women feel empowered and strong when images of them are taken down from popular social sites such as Instagram? Is there an alternative to the censorship?

2. As a social community, what can be done to support oppressed/censored individuals?

By Ana Patricia Bourgeois


Works Cited:

Lefebrve, Henri. ”The Production of Space” in Gieseking, Jen J. and William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty. (2009). The Experience of the Body and Classical Psychology. In Mariam Fraser and Monica Greco (Eds.), The Body: A Reader (52-54). London: Routledge.


As discussed earlier in class, the Instagram community guidelines are bizarre in the sense that they prioritize some images over others. There is no mention of violence, for example, but they would immediately censor sexual content. However, body parts can be shown in certain context like educational, marketing, or if it is beneficial for the community.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 5.05.26 PM

This last point made me think about the #loveyourlines Instagram page. The account has more than 106K followers and is a true inspiration for women all over the world who lives with stretch marks. When I think about the accounts where breastfeeding or even breast cancer survivors images gets shut down, I think about this page. The photos can sometimes be very graphic, but it is in no way sexual. It is to show real women, real bodies and spread self-love to others.

How can Instagram even think of shutting down this page? It is not even an option. Photos are being sent from very different kinds of women, from all ages, but they all share this one thing, and I think it is what makes it special.


In my previous blog post I had talked about how my grandparents lake house was one of my favorite spaces situated on the waterfront of the Champlain Lake in Alburg, Vermont. When I pictured that spot I imagined that it was summer because otherwise it normally would not be open because of the season. Here’s a map locating the position of the chalet:


Courtesy: Google Maps

As you can see, it is really close to the Canadian border. It takes maximum an hour and a half to get there by car. As my grandfather would say: ”No need to take the plane to get to paradise, you only need a valid passport and you are good to go!” For this reason, a lot of French Canadian owns lake houses for the summer; the whole street where my family lake house is located is filled with Quebecers!

Following this line of thought, it made me realize: are we occupying other people spaces? If I put myself in the place of Americans already living there, it must be pretty invading each summer. But again, I think it relates back to the question of whiteness.  As Sara Ahmed uses phenomenology (the study of lived experience) to make us think about it, I realized that whiteness is associated with a predominant middle class position, reflecting wealth and good habits. This way, Alburg community accepts to share their space with French Canadians because it can make others perceive their community as being open to everyone (in this case, white people obviously) and, therefore, it is good for their economy. In the end, I think it always comes back to power; who has it and who can benefit from it? Even if it implies you need to share your own space, for money people are willing to do almost anything.


Courtesy: cellphone picture

However, one of the things that makes this place special is the lake. Living in an urban area, we are not used to see so much water around us. Yes, Montreal is an island, but who really takes the time to perceive it as leisure? Sure, people who live close to the St.Lawrence River see it everyday, but again, do they take the time to enjoy it? Mapping wise, this is where it gets interesting. Can you map water? It is not as structured and tangible as mapping roads.

To be able to drive a boat, people need a permit. The same goes for the sea-doo. However, rules are very different from driving a car. This is what fascinated me from very little. Boats are a very special and different technology than cars! Jason Farman argued that representations of space is structured by the co-existence of technology, our everyday and maps. If someone is not used to driving a boat, his/her representation of the lake would be very different from someone who is used to driving it. My goal this summer would be to pass my boater’s licence. Since I enjoy being on the water so much, I would not have to wait for someone to drive me around each time. It must not be that difficult if they offer the exam online!


-Ana P.

Artists: their bodies as/in space(s)

“Anyway, I wish you wouldn’t harp on that word, “women.” Women artists. There is no such thing—or person. It’s just as much a contradiction in terms as “man artist” or “elephant artist.” You may be a woman and you may be an artist; but the one is a given and the other is you.” – Dorothea Tanning

This week presentation deals with different psychic spaces of womanhood, nostalgia and power in relation to erasure and our perceptions of cultural borders.

In Carol Armstrong’s article, Francesca Woodman: A Ghost In The House Of The “Woman Artist”, she explores three main topics involving Woodman’s body of work: “space” , “the woman artist” and “the canon”. Among those three subjects, we have decided to explore further into the topic of “space” involving Woodman’s art.

Using Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of space, we are able to further consider Francesca Woodman’s use of space in her work. The spatial practice found throughout her artworks are her “chosen” spaces where she created her photography. Woodman’s body of work correlates directly to specific places and self-created spaces. The spaces she chose to embody or photograph herself and others in, which is her “spatial practice”, according to Lefebvre, mostly involved interiors. The decisions Woodman made involving specifically chosen objects in various photographs are her way of using “representations of space” (formed by the mind) to create environments/spaces that are discomforting or offer a dream- or nightmare-like state. Woodman explored these spaces through issues that surround gender and the representations of bodies, including her own, in relation to the environment they are placed in. Woodman created and shared the image of a person we cannot fully identify, who almost seamlessly becomes whole with the space that the body is placed in, evoking a ghostly presence.
(tribute blog:


Francesca Woodman, “House #4”, 1976.

Meanwhile, Malene Vest Hansen calls upon Sophie Calle’s site-specific strategy to question the politics of public and private spaces and how she juxtaposes materiality and affect. The author describes Calle as an ethnographer, using other people’s confessions to document her visual exploration, in the case of The Detachment, the study of Berlin’s GDR (German Democratic Republic) monuments erasure.


“The detachment” 1996 Series of 12 books and 12 framed color prints

In her work, Calle critiques the public space, as an impersonal place controlled by instances of power. Often, the connotation of the public sphere designates a rational and masculine space while the private one represents the opposite and is described as irrational and feminine. However, while inducing different intimate statements in relation to the public arena, Calle questions identities and finds a way to connect the two narratives. As Malene Vest Hansen suggests, the monuments form part of the citizen’s autobiographies giving importance to individual experienced space in the realm of collective memory.


Gomez-Peña, Guillermo. The New World Border: Prophecies, Poems, & Loqueras for the End of the Century. San Francisco: City Lights, 1996. Cover Photo.

Unlike Malene Vest Hansen reading, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, a Mexican performance artist, elaborates further than historic monuments and takes an international reading on what a border means to him in his work ‘’The New World Border’’. From our discussions in class regarding space and body, this manifesto clearly takes these notions to another level, a utopian one, where a single space exists and where all bodies are accepted has they are.

Since Gomez-Peña considers himself as ‘’Other’’, he reaches for a hybrid and borderless world where no separations or judgements are made. However, we ask: can this borderless world imagined by Gomez-Peña be feasible? Is having a single hybrid space for everyone denying the fact that everyone has different identities and needs?

 Questions to consider:

1. Why is the concept of identity so important for artists’ relationships with spaces?

2. What would you consider to be your own relationship to the spaces within which you work/ dream/ inhabit, or those that you think you should be able to enter into and lay claim to?

____   By Ana Patricia Bourgeois, Noémie Boisclair, Zara Domingues and Lorrie Edmonds

Blog Post #1

Hello! My name is Ana Patricia Bourgeois and I am currently doing a specialization in Communications Studies. I’m a music lover and a bookworm. Through my Latino roots, I enjoy dancing and simply live life. My interests are travelling, writing and modelling. I spend most of my time studying, working and sleeping.

My selfie consists of an image of myself modified for the purpose of one of my project in COMS. More specifically, for Visual Coms and Culture. This was for the ”self-portrait” assignment where we needed to represent one of the main theme of the class. In this case, ”advertising and consumers culture”.


My goal for this class is to learn how to be aware of other people perspective of the spaces, and at the same time, expand my creativity to see a space differently while being conscious of my body.

One of my favorite spaces would be my grandparents’ summer lake house in Alburgh, Vermont. The lake house is located right beside the Champlain Lake. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a close patio where we eat, and a large outdoor patio where we sunbath. However, the best part is that they own a boat and a sea-doo. For this reason, I use my body in a way I would not normally use. I move around a lot; swimming, playing Frisbee on the beach, driving the sea-doo, etc. Doing all those things takes my mind elsewhere far from all the stress of school and the ”routine” cycle which is why I find it peaceful and relaxing. Plus, it’s summer!!!!! (My favorite season).

The five things faculty do that make learning hard is:

– Not giving students the right amount of assistance to develop their writing skills

– Not having the proper facilities and accommodations (e.g. lack of printers, computers, tables in CJ)

– When teachers don’t give proper feedback for a paper and don’t respond to emails

– When teachers assume that students have prior knowledge of everything

– When teachers don’t give the opportunity for students to discuss/ask questions

On the other hand, the five things faculty do that make it easy to learn is:

– When teachers explain clearly, are well prepared and uses examples

– When teachers are dynamic, enthusiastic, approachable and seems to enjoy teaching

– When teachers are fair in their method of evaluation

– When teachers are master of their subject and don’t need to read a powerpoint every class

– When teachers give the opportunity for student to be creative in their work