Aberystwyth Transitions Reading Group Blog


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Merrifield and Harvey discussion, 22 November

The group had a fascinating discussion in the quintessentially “rurban” setting of Aberystwyth Arts Centre bar on Thursday night about rebel cities and urban revolutions. We covered Marxism and post-Marxism, Kafka, Rushdie, the nature of power, surburbia mortgages and discipline, professionalism and living alternatively. As well as a lot else. Which made for a busy evening.

I found the discussion of Harvey’s ‘urban psychology’ and the mindset of living in an urban setting particularly interesting – and those who have a rural mindset in a hyper-urban environment and vice versa. The power of Kafka’s fable about The Castle was also very strikingly used by Merrifield, I thought, and opens up a very important discussion about how we conceptualise power in modern society.

Coming away from the meeting, I found myself thinking (again) about the rural/urban space and geography of the university in all of this. As within, and yet also outside, the city; as the locus of revolution (in Nanterre in 1968 and occupy in 2010) but also as the ivory tower where we can discuss our theorists and texts in safe isolation from much that is at the grassroots rural, and concrete urban, in contemporary politics. And because I’ve been teaching about social movements and 1968 is on my mind, I’ll finish with this: Sous les pavés, la plage. (Under the paving stones, the beach.)