Jeremy Williams is a Doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin specialising in urban studies, political culture and sociology, ethnography and technological change. He received his Bachelor's Degree in History and Politics from the University of Durham, before spending several years working professionally in urban governance. Influenced by this, his research interests focus on issues of urban space and place, particularly the intersection between both theoretical and critical perspectives and the 'realities' of urban politics, culture and society. His work touches on the subjectivity of the urban experience, as well as meta-critiques of academic practice and knowledge production, with a eye towards broader social utility and impact. His Doctoral dissertation – Between the Idea and the Reality: New Public Spaces in the United States - will be published in 2020.
Between the Idea and the Reality: New Public Spaces in the United States (Dissertation Project)
Dissertation in Political Science
First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Christian Lammert
Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Boris Vormann
Third supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jonny Aspen
This project is concerned with conceptualising and understanding the implications of the phenomenon of 'New Public Spaces' in the United States. These are regulated, often privately or quasi-privately administered public spaces such as The High Line public park in New York City, which are becoming increasingly prevalent across the United States. Such places are characterised by a significant amounts of spatial regulation, as well as their status somewhere between traditional 'public' space and private space. They are also marked by claims made about their positive effects on 'the public' and 'the area'. They also include a significant private element: the impetus for such spaces sometimes, if not always, comes from the private sector, and they are often patrolled by private security guards. Finally, they are also highly popular, both with city administrators as a strategy of urban renewal and attracting investment, and with the wider public at large.
Using ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in public spaces in New York and Los Angeles, the project argues that processes of neoliberalisation, securitisation, and commodification, particularly in the aftermath of September 11th 2001, have combined to produce a set of external and internal dynamics which have produced new types of public space. The project seeks to catalogue, characterise and understand these types of space, and argues that their unique characteristics make them a category in their own right worthy of study. Finally, it seeks to deduce the meaning of such spaces, particularly in terms of their democratic and socio-cultural implications, and makes normative suggestions as to the desirability of such types of public space.