Where Gender Comes to the Fore: Mapping Gender Mix in Urban Public Spaces

The study engages with the ways in which gender mix plays out in public spaces as a key issue in exploring social diversity and vitality of the urban public life. The paper introduces a mapping method to unravel how gender differences are spatially manifested in urban public spaces. Thus, urban mapping has been considered as a method for producing a kind of spatial knowledge that has the capacity to shed light on how different socio-spatial patterns play out in public open spaces. The proposed mapping method documents where and the extent to which female and male users appropriate urban public spaces. The database for developing and testing the proposed method emerges from two site areas in the city of Tehran. In doing so, the study draws upon direct observation, fieldwork notes, visual recording, and urban mapping as research methods. In this way, the paper raises questions about the importance of gender mix in public space and the ways in which mapping has the capacity to inform urban research.

Sense of the City: Proximity and Mobility

How does mobility become a state of being for people? How do people make mobile places and spaces? The mobile people and the places comprising a mobile milieu affirm each other. These inter-relationships can be studied as processes. Processes resist affirming to design, and the reciprocation between “mobile subjects” and the “mobile places” form dynamic patterns. How do we understand the dynamics of cities through mobile subjects and mobile places? Secondly, processes have a direction though not a pre-given destination. The mobile subject is not just a social subject but a “socio-technical” one as he/she interacts with the pervasive technologies of the plan and infrastructural design. I consider technologies of everyday use such as mobiles, cars, and mass transit systems as becoming milieu to etch out the mobile subject. I consider the interaction of people, places, and modes of transport as inter-relational units. Through this I attempt to understand how practices comprise the dynamics of mobilities and can orient the expansion of the city.

Appropriating the Past

Joseph Schumpeter’s notion of creative destruction permeates discussion of plant closures, capitalist landscapes, and urban crises. Yet what of destructive creation? Through ruins photography and luxury loft apartments, urban exploration and downtown revitalization are radically altering the landscape, memory, and market base of Detroit, colonizing the city’s industrial past and separating the emotion of history from its lived experiences. These markets strip buildings of their history and workers of their voices, focusing instead on sublime awe, aesthetic qualities, and middle-and upper-class residence and entertainment. This appropriation positions the city between a dual past of industrial might and abject decay, and an uncertain future promising profound changes how we conceive of an authentic Detroit.