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The power of (dis)placement: pigeons and urban regeneration in Trafalgar Square

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-387
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

King's Authors


The regeneration of Trafalgar Square was presented as a process of transforming a chaotic roundabout into a world-class square fit for a world-class city. This worldclassness revolved around enabling the square as a cultural space by altering the very materiality of the place: several human and nonhuman objects were added in order to encourage those cultural practices through which a world-class city-ness is performed. The proposal implied some exclusions too. Turning the square into a cultural place implied redefining the presence of nature within it. To be cultural the square had to be pigeon-free and achieving that goal, in turn, required some material objects being removed and some practices being proscribed. This paper examines the contested accounts of civility at play in this material remaking of Trafalgar Square and advances the wider theoretical claim that this dynamic interplay of placement and displacement of ontologically symmetrical humans and nonhumans is not blind to political imbalances. The paper suggests potential dialogues between relational, more-than-human and urban geographies and emerging political theories of the nonhuman, while contributing to a conceptualization of power in relational thinking.

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