"Sometimes a Community and sometimes a Battlefield": From the Comedic Public Sphere to the Commons of Speakers' Corner

Cooper, Davina (2006) "Sometimes a Community and sometimes a Battlefield": From the Comedic Public Sphere to the Commons of Speakers' Corner. Society and Space, 24 . pp. 753-775. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Speakers’ Corner in London is perceived as a space in which people speak freely without state interference; it is also popularly known as a place in which eccentrics and others, without access to mainstream media, orate. In this paper I explore Speakers’ Corner as a discursive space, seeking to find a way through its polarised representations as a free space of serious and important deliberation and as a degraded trivial public sphere. I do so through the concept of the comedic public, which loosely draws upon Bakhtin’s work on the carnival but also differs in significant ways. At the same time I argue that Speakers’ Corner should not just be read or evaluated in terms of the public speech generated; the Corner is also a place in which communities form and strangers interact with others in counternormative ways. I argue that these social dimensions, often neglected, constitute an important aspect of the Corner’s practice; they are also dimensions generated and incited by the Corner’s discursive qualities. To illustrate this further I consider the expression of emotion, engagement in combative debate, and heckling as junctures through which social interactions arise. Finally, I suggest the social dimension to the Corner might productively be understood through the concept of the commons.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: public sphere, community, strangers, speech, market-place of ideas, commons, public
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School > Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality
Depositing User: Katrin Steinack
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:00
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2010 13:55
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/126 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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