Blog a Day: Purse Lip Square Jaw

Anne Galloway: Purse Lip Square Jaw

Anne Galloway is (as far as I can make out, and among other things I’m sure) an ethnographer of architecture and the architectural — that is, she’s concerned with spaces and places, a concern I share and have written on a lot here, though far more amateurishly than Galloway. Her writing can be a little academic and dense at times, though giventhe complexity of the subject matter, I doubt that’s avoidable. Give it some effort, it pays off — as it does in the bit I excerpted below, from a post last month on “restricting mobility”:

As part of my research on tensions between mobility and stability, I’ve become particularly interested in ways we attempt to control the movement of people – especially given the well-established Western (and especially American) tradition of associating mobility with freedom.

Coming at the question from a different direction, I’ve been thinking about how photographs stabilise the movement (arguably the essence) of parkour and skateboarding. And even how old daguerreotypes were incapable of capturing movement.

But mostly I’ve been thinking about how settled people have historically reacted to nomads. For example, under the Israeli state the life of the Bedouin has changed dramatically, and the Irish government has long tried to fix the itinerant problem associated with Irish Traveller culture. Mongolian nomads are increasingly moving to the city, but urban infrastructure and policy – as well as nomadic cultural values – are not adapting well to this shift.

I cut a bit out — you’re sposed to follow the link and read it, silly — which deals with stuff like “no skateboarding” signs and dress codes, military baricades and riot control strategies, and so on. Galloway links together a whole spectrum of mobility-denials , from the private strategies we use to keep those crazy kids off our walls to the machinations of nations and their efforts to sedentarize people who have, often unwillingly and even unwittingly, become national subjects.

Purse Lip Square Jaw is one of those sites that makes you glad to live in the age when humanity decided to blog. It’s the kind of work that, a decade ago, you’d only be exposed to in hallway chats at universities and professional meetings, and once in a while in an academic journal (which while certainly good for what they are sposed to be good for, do little to convey the process of ideas developing and growing).

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