Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
On 6 February 2008, a deliberative theatre experiment was held at the National Archives of Quebec. Inspired by the democratic virtues of public deliberation but preoccupied with its blind spots, Forum Theatre was used to initiate discussion about the social tensions between the homeless and other dwellers of public space in downtown Montreal. Using Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, we hoped to emphasize the narratives of the homeless in these neighbourhood forums to engage a variety of stakeholders in a reflexive debate on normative conceptions of public space which tend to reproduce the marginalization of the homeless by reinforcing the denial of recognition they face. Drawing on Simmel’s ‘psychological privacy’ (1950) and on Sennett who argues that public space as ‘neutral’ derives from the Protestant ethic (1990), we will explore the tension between the right to indifference claimed by domiciled city dwellers and the quest for social visibility from their homeless neighbours. We further argue that this tension is set against what Lefebvre (1972) calls the city in its exchange value versus the city in its usage value.