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Producing spaces for representation: racist marches, counterdemonstrations, and public-order policing

Journal article
Authors Mattias Wahlström
Published in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Volume 28
Issue 5
Pages 811-827
ISSN 0263-7758
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Sociology
Pages 811-827
Language en
Subject categories Sociology, Human Geography, Empirical conflict research


This paper analyzes how space is produced in the interaction between political demonstrations and protest policing during a series of racist and antiracist actions in Sweden. A model is proposed for a spatial analysis of both police and protesters based on the concepts of territorialization and deterritorialization. The spatial practices of police and protesters unfold on different scales in conflicts of territorial border control and order control within territories. As indicated by Lefebvre’s spatial triad, this process is also influenced by authorities’ representations of space and the representational spaces of the actors involved. When spaces are claimed for representation, symbolic meanings of protest spaces are used and modified, occasionally as ‘truth-spots’ for demonstrating movement knowledge claims. The paper contributes to a more systematic theoretical understanding of the spatial interaction between police and protesters, while indicating the importance of considering cases with multiple stakeholders in order to avoid an all too dichotomous understanding of conflicts over public space.

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