CURB Announces Spring Seminars

The following two seminars take place at The University of York in March – no need to book a place, all welcome!

‘Keep Moving!’: Report on the Policing of the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp November 2013 – April 2014

Dr Joanna Gilmore (York Law School, University of York), Dr Will Jackson (School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University), Dr Helen Monk (School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University)

Wednesday 2nd March, 5pm, ARRC Auditorium, Alcuin College

In November 2013 the company IGas, specialists in onshore oil and gas, began exploratory drilling on greenbelt land at Barton Moss, on the outskirts of Salford, Greater Manchester, to explore for coal bed methane and shale gas. The possibility of the future extraction of the latter through the process of hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – led local residents, along with activists from around the country, to establish a protest camp at the site.  The protests triggered a large-scale policing operation by Greater Manchester Police – reportedly costing in excess of £1.6m – which led to over 200 arrests and numerous official complaints about the conduct of police officers.

This seminar celebrates the launch of a new report published by CURB which contains interim findings from a research project into the policing of the anti-fracking protest by Dr Joanna Gilmore (YLS, CURB), Dr Will Jackson (Liverpool John Moores University) and Dr Helen Monk (Liverpool John Moores University). The report – titled ‘Keep Moving!: Report on the Policing of the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp November 2013 – April 2014 – documents concerns about the nature, function and proportionality of the policing operation at the camp and the way that policing methods were deployed in accordance with obligations to facilitate peaceful protest underpinned by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The authors’ analysis is situated within a contextual framework which argues that the experiences of those at the camp – those who were being policed at Barton Moss – are central to unlocking what happened during the protest. As such, the report provides a view from below, drawing on testimonies provided by camp residents and those involved in direct action.

The report highlights the various procedures adopted that had the effect of curtailing the right to protest, and seeks to substantiate unacknowledged claims that the policing operation was violent, incongruous to the size and peaceful nature of the protest, and carried out with impunity. Ultimately it raises serious questions about the nature of democratic accountability and policing in England and Wales.

The Rhythm of Non-Places: Marooning the Embodied Self in Depthless Space

Les Roberts

Wednesday 9th March, 5pm, W/243

Taking as its starting point the spatiotemporal rhythms of landscapes of hyper-mobility and transit, this paper explores how the process of “marooning” the self in a radically placeless (and depthless) space—in this instance a motorway traffic island on the M53 in the northwest of England—can inform critical understandings and practices of “deep mapping”. Conceived of as an autoethnographic experiment—a performative expression of “islandness” as an embodied spatial praxis—the research on which this paper draws revisits ideas set out in JG Ballard’s 1974 novel Concrete Island, although, unlike Ballard’s island Crusoe (and sans person Friday), the author’s residency was restricted to one day and night. The fieldwork, which combines methods of “digital capture” (audio soundscapes, video, stills photography, and GPS tracking), takes the form of a rhythmanalytical mapping of territory that can unequivocally be defined as “negative space”. Offering an oblique engagement with debates on “non-places” and spaces of mobility, the paper examines the capacity of non-places/negative spaces to play host to the conditions whereby affects of place and dwelling can be harnessed and performatively transacted. The embodied rhythmicity of non-places is thus interrogated from the vantage point of a constitutive negation of the negation of place. In this vein, the paper offers a reflexive examination of the spatial anthropology of negative space.

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