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The Performance of Improvisation: Traffic Practice and the Production of Space
Halmstad University, School of Social and Health Sciences (HOS), Social Change, Learning and Social Relations (SLSR).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2972-6273
2004 (English)In: ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, ISSN 1492-9732, E-ISSN 1492-9732, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 41-62Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to discuss an ethnographic study of traffic in terms of theproduction of space. Traffic participation, negotiation and collaboration are viewed from aperformative perspective in this study. That is, traffic involves multiple ways of creatingdifferences between continuity and interruptions, making order in mundane spaces througha continuous and simultaneous struggle involving non-verbal, non-human, human, textualand other discursive means. Performance not only involves a process of the relationalconstruction of identity; the term is widened to include all sorts of practices that areinvolved in the human project of creating places and producing spaces in conditions thatcan be defined as negotiations. Identity is one important aspect in this relationalinteraction. Empirical findings also suggest, however, that it might also be important tolook further into a process called presentational presence. The performance of apresentational presence is here seen as one aspect of practice through which negotiationsamong traffic participants are constructed in relational ways. Performance in traffic canthus not be reduced to a mimetic practice of temporarily involved actors. Producing spacesand creating places is viewed as an existential project involving the negotiation of order. Iargue that there are specific elements in the act of performance by way of presentation thathold a seed to perpetual change at the same time as they reproduce multiple andsimultaneous order. This argument will be supported by examples from studies of nonverbal communication in traffic. Order is here represented by knowledge of scriptlikemaps of pre-given and preconceived, normative and non-normative, clues on how toact in specific situations. Therefore the production of new acts, and thus a different order intraffic is dependent on the knowledge structures in which they take place. It is argued thatmultiple knowledge structures are used as the starting point for improvisation andnegotiations. Practice in general could be said to be a continuously ongoing struggle forchange in preconceived order. This continuous and simultaneous struggle can be defined asan on-going-ness. Thus, it is not any stable and given order that makes traffic work.Instead, traffic emerges out of certain practices that aim at reproducing, and at the sametime changing an order, ultimately producing more or less safe and effective spaces. Rulesrepresent such knowledge structure that aims at order and which traffic participants use asassociation for practice and meaning. Knowledge structures, order, improvisation andnegotiation are thus intertwined and inseparable. Without order there would be noimprovisation, and without improvisation, order would be difficult to define at all.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kelowna, B.C.: Okanagan University College, Dept. of Geography , 2004. Vol. 3, no 1, p. 41-62
Keywords [en]
traffic, production of space, performance of place, presentational presence
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-4534Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-27544500170OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-4534DiVA, id: diva2:321936
Available from: 2010-06-03 Created: 2010-06-03 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Jonasson, Mikael

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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