In "Crowd, Power and Post-Democracy in the 21st Century”, Zizek (2008) argues that when the normal run of things is traumatically interrupted, the field is open for a ‘discursive’ ideological competition. In other words, when there is a crisis.


After our class yesterday there was a l’UQAM  occupation. It ended late into the night with an unnecessarily large police presence in riot gear, endless tear gas burning throats, and violent dispersion strategies. The night occupation was an immediate reaction to the events of earlier that day at UQAM.

Today, on the campus of the Université du Québec à Montréal, facing a court order demanding that classes be held and the threat of expulsion issued by their administration, hundreds of students turned up to disrupt classes and enforce their democratically voted strike mandate.

In response, the university administration called in the Montreal police, who arrived in full riot gear with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and batons at the ready. Paradoxically enough, their stated role there was to ensure that classes could occur as scheduled.

The students were shortly boxed in. The bulk of the reported 22 arrests happened as riot police swept onto campus. Students then set up barricades, and police formed a line and prepared to move in.

The occupation was also a response to the larger institutional issues of the different forms of violence against students (physical, economic, etc) and the austerity myth. The violence of those in power is much more insidious and invisible than the violence of destroying university property, which creates an unbalanced imaginary in this political struggle.

When we see images in the media and read the discourse of others which try to decontextualize a serious and complicated issue, and only focus on ‘violent protestors doing damage to property’ we must remember history, context, and the nuanced ways that bodies are excluded from spaces. What are the modes of recourse against the systemic and systematic violence we are faced with? Yes, all of us! Whether we recognize it or not. Although, some of us are affected by institutional violence more than others, which is where our friend intersectionality comes in. And even then, we must self-reflect what subject position we are coming from in the ways in which we orient towards events like the occupation last night. Why do we have x or y opinion on protests/protestors? What has shaped that perspective?

We must also remember the ways in which regulatory powers favor property over human bodies. When are riot gear, teargas and rubber bullets, etc. appropriate modes of policing bodies? (remember the Jason Farman example about increased security cameras pointing to computer labs and not for the safety of students on campus.)



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Photos courtesy of Caroline Ramirez.


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.


Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon 2015

Related to next week's class --- who is included and excluded from spaces online? in what ways? what forms does censorship take? You can participate in this wonderful worldwide initiative to address the absence of women artists on Wikipedia.

Samedi / Saturday * 7 / 03 / 2015 *
CWAHI @ Concordia 10h-17h (Faculty of Fine Arts Slide Library 1515 Ste. Catherine St. West EV Building, Room 3.741)

(Garderie disponible! / Childcare available! 10h-17h @ Institute Simone de Beauvoir – 2170 Bishop, 2 étage)

Wikipedia’s gender trouble is well documented: in a 2010 survey, Wikimedia found that less than 13% of its contributors identify as female. (

We invite you to help address this absence at a Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Saturday, March 7, 2015 from 10am to 5pm at CWAHI Concordia (Faculty of Fine Arts Slide Library 1515 Ste. Catherine St. West EV Building, Room 3.741). We will provide tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian, and reference materials. For the editing-averse, we urge you to stop by to show your support. We also encourage remote participation; you can share your thoughts on the editing process in real-time on our Wikipedia Meet Up page and here on the Tumblr.

For more information / pour plus d’informations :


Le problème d’égalité de représentation des sexes à Wikipédia est déjà l’objet d’une riche documentation. Dans une enquête de 2010, Wikimédia a révélé que moins de 13% de ses collaborateurs s’identifient comme femmes. (

Nous vous invitons à contribuer à combler cette absence lors d’un « Art + féminisme Wikipedia Edit-a-thon », le samedi 7 mars 2015, de 10h à 17h à CWAHI Concordia (Faculty of Fine Arts Slide Library 1515 Ste. Catherine St. West EV Building, Room 3.741). Nous fournirons des tutoriels pour les débutants wikipédiens, et des ressources documentaires. Pour ceux et celles qui craindraient de prendre part à l’édition en elle-même, nous vous invitons à vous arrêter au moins pour montrer votre soutien. Nous encourageons également la participation à distance, vous pouvez partager vos réflexions sur le processus d’édition en temps réel sur notre page Wikipedia Meet Up et ici sur le Tumblr.


Notes on accessibility / Des notes sur l’accessabilité de l’évènement:
1. CWAHI est accessible et comprends des toilettes accessible / CWAHI is accessible and there is access to accessible washrooms.
2. La gardere est disponible de 10-17h à l’Institute Simone de Beauvoir (2170 Bishop, 2 étage). Ce lieu n’est pas accessible. Pour aide a ouvrir la porte, appeler au 514 848 2424 (x 2373). / Childcare will be provided for this event. The venue (2170 Bishop, second floor) is however not accessible and so parents needing assistance are invited to 514 848 2424 (x 2373) to arrange for child pickup at the building entrance.
3. Les ateliers et discussions seront presenter en français et anglais. N’hésiter pas à demander pour un traduction en tout temps! / All workshops and talks will be presented in English and French. Please ask for a translation if needed!

Wired Women S@lon #106 : Wild city mapping

Wild city mapping

Friday, February 27 – 7 PM

Suggested donation: 5 $. Free for Studio members.
@ STUDIO XX – 4001, Berri (corner Duluth) space 201

On Friday February 27 at 7pm, Studio XX presents The Wild City Mapping collective and their open source based,collaborative project, mapping the wild green spaces in Montreal. Artists Maia Iotzova, Maya Richman, Dominique Ferraton, Igor Rončević and Marilene Gaudet will share their work and invite the public to contribute to their online platform. Floris Ensink from The Sierra Club Quebec, one of the collective’s community partners, will join the event to present Montreal Bioblitz, the Sierra Club’s online urban biodiversity map.

Wild City Mapping is a project started by a collective of artists, green space enthusiasts and geeks. They map the wild green spaces in Montreal through the eyes of the community that uses them. The on-line open source based map that they are compiling weaves the physical and geographic features of each space with people’s personal connection to it.

On February 27th at Studio XX the collective will launch the Wild City Map and the website that hosts the project: 

In the spirit of open-source software, the documentation for the project will be made public for other communities that would like to replicate it. Besides the map, the website feature a monthly journal where a new contributor will explore urban nature in a creative and meaningful way. The Wild City Mapping collective hopes that the website will serve as a focal point bringing together the community, artists and organizations working within the realm of urban nature.

In addition to the on-line component, the collective holds creative interventions in urban green spaces, from interpretive art walks to film screenings and yarn bombing. Each intervention allows the opportunity to explore a green space in-depth. The collective is always interested in collaborating with community groups for interventions in green spaces in and outside of Montreal.


[conference] World of Matter: Extractive Ecologies and Unceded Terrains

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, February 19th
Concordia University, February 20th and 21st, 2015

The world of matter has been forcefully sculpted in the last several centuries by the twin projects of colonialism and capitalism. The very movement of human activity under modernity has rested on the formation of a standing reserve of nature, a category whose flexibility has variously expanded and contracted to include both humans and non-human others as targets for exploitation and extractive energy. Carbon industries, forestry, mining, agri-business, construction, mega-farming and fishing participate in worlding the world as mere matter, asserting deep and unforgiving property rights in dispersed territories around the globe. Nevertheless, at each point in this cartography of extraction one finds committed points of resistance and unceded terrains, both material and symbolic. This symposium asks how the fields of contemporary art and media studies, indigenous studies and resistance movements, critical environmental studies, new ethnography and science and technology studies might bring into focus the globalizing dynamics of extractive ecologies. It seeks to build substantive discursive grounds for resisting incursions into sovereign land, denials of the rights of nature, and the persistent dispossession of indigenous and First Nation peoples. It asks, What unceded terrains precede and interrupt the excavatory depths of imperial ecologies? What interventions ensure the defense of land, labour, survival and species diversity in the globalized present?

The symposium is organized by Krista Lynes, Canada Research Chair in Feminist Media Studies, Concordia University and Darin Barney, Canada Research chair in Technology and Citizenship, McGill University.


Accessibility in Montreal: the Poutine Factor

from Laurence Parent, our guest speaker on 18 March—

From February 1st to 7th, Montreal is celebrating Poutine Week. What better than a delicious week full of potatoes, cheese curds and gravy to make us forget that we are in the middle of another winter?

Consulting the list of 49 restaurants participating in Poutine Week, we are once again faced with the inaccessibility of Montreal. The majority of these restaurants impose a criteria on everyone who wants to indulge in a poutine: the ability to climb one or more steps. Many of us poutine eaters do not fit this criteria. We believe that we have the right to taste poutine in equality. In Montreal, eating poutine is an important way to exercise our citizenship.

It is time to know which restaurants are wheelchair accessible. And we need your help! Our objective is simple. We would like to do an evaluation of the basic accessibility or inaccessibility of Poutine Week restaurants to demonstrate the lack of accessibility in Montreal.

To participate:

  1. Consult the list of participating restaurants here:
  2. You can also locate restaurants identified by stars on this card
  3. Choose one or a few restaurants to visit between now and ideally by February 5th.
  4. Take one or a few photos of the restaurant’s entrance. If you have time to enter to see if there is ample space for wheelchairs, even better!
  5. Send your photos with a short description of your observations to:

Let’s change Montreal… one poutine at a time!

(French below the cut)


Natural Paths / Desire Lines

Below is a short piece by the Urban Geographer discussing the idea of short cuts —marks/traces of movement by people that create new paths. These are also called desire lines / desire paths.

Matthew Tiessen explains: “Conventionally, desire lines are defined by architects and urban planners as those trampled-down footpaths that deviate from official (i.e. pre-planned and paved) directional imperatives.” These lines are not just the products of our movement that desires a quicker/different route, but also “the product of a natural environment that desires and beckons to us, and that offers to us new pathways and potential circuits that expand the interconnected network—the interdependent relationship—between us and itself.” Psychogeography depends on these kinds of movements (which includes: the dérive). If you engage in this subjective movement through an environment you are doing phenomenology!  Remember: Phenomenology is the study of lived experience! Merleau-Ponty argues that our lived experience/our behaviour “has its roots and its ultimate effects in the geographical environment” (The Structure of Behavior, 1965, p. 133).

What are some of the desire lines in your neighbourhood? at Concordia? How do they change your relationship to space? This might be useful for your mis-guide.

Natural Paths

montreal desire lines

by Daniel Rotsztain, a student of Urban Geography at McGill University.

When walking through Montreal, we cannot deny the usefulness of the shortcut. Shortcuts that are used frequently by many people show us the lovely chaos that ensues when urban design fails to consider our pedestrian needs. Many pedestrians share one goal: to get between two points in the city as fast as possible. Ideally, urban planners would design paths that meet our needs perfectly: major routes that bring the maximum number of people to the places they want to go.

Fortunately, the ideal of perfect planning is rarely a reality.  Each of us has a separate orientation toward the city, a separate idea of what routes are important, and a different concept of effective and efficient negotiations of the urban space and, ideally, the urban fabric is fluid enough to accommodate that. A simple example is the natural path that forms at many street corners. Cutting a corner makes your walk only slightly faster yet, inevitably, sidewalks at 90 degree angles are happily traded for a quicker trod through the soil.

Living in a wintery city gives Montrealers a unique perspective on the natural path phenomenon. Once the snow arrives, our mobility through large open spaces is considerably hindered. Every winter in Park Jeanne-Mance, the city ploughs paths that trace the perimeter of the park, the slowest route for someone who wants to walk across. Having to walk through the park daily, I’ve found that shortcuts through the snow appear every winter in the same place. A path that initially manifests as a narrow track of boot prints, meandering past trees and picnic tables, slowly evolves to become wide and navigable.