Losing Ground? A Note on Feminism, Cultural Activism, and Urban Space

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Abstract

This article offers a study of the Hackney Flashers' project Who's Holding the Baby? (1976–1978). The agitprop series documented the establishment of an independent nursery in North London, while providing analysis of the profoundly gendered and classed nature of such work. This historical example illustrates with striking accuracy transformations to the urban landscape of London over the past four decades, in particular pointing towards the critical entanglement between collective art practice, liberal voluntarism and processes of gentrification. The article therefore raises a set of problems: To what extent does feminised social reproduction labour and care voluntarism assuage or challenge the normative functioning of urban public space? What is the relationship of cultural to economic capital, and how is gender relevant to these forms of value? Has the potential of creative, urban protest tactics been exhausted? Drawing from writings across cultural geography and art history, the article proposes that a historical consideration of the Hackney Flashers opens up a pressing discussion around shifts in the organisation of social reproduction since the 1970s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
JournalThird Text
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date13 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sep 2017

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