Amy Lavender Harris

Amy Lavender Harris teaches in the Department of Geography at York University, where her work focuses on urban identity and the cultural significance of place. She is the author of Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press, 2010), which was shortlisted for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism and won the Award of Merit, the highest honour given to a book at the 2011 Heritage Toronto Award.

GEOG 4900 Class 5: Regulation and Dissent: State Surveillance and Public Protest

 What does it mean to protest? What would compel you to join one — and how far would you be willing to go to support a cause you believe in? What is the utility–and what are the limits–of protest in a ‘free and democratic’ society? 

Today in the Public Space course we’ll be discussing what happens when people ‘take it to the streets,’ in protests, demonstrations, riots and revolutions. Some of the questions we’ll consider include: are demonstrations simply another form of democratic decision-making, a way for people (or ‘publics’) without voice to make themselves heard? Or are they a threat to order and security? Are rioters ‘terrorists — or are they one thin line of defence against an increasingly repressive state?

Some recent public protests we’ll explore will include the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto, the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising and its connection to what has become known as the ‘Arab Spring’ the ‘Occupy’ movement in North American cities during the fall and winter of 2011-2012, and the ongoing student demonstrations in Quebec. We’ll also consider how the campus of York University functions as a space of dissent. 


Israel Apartheid Week @ YorkU — part 1 (via Youtube)

York University students launch 10-day occupation (YFile, 24 January 2012)

Tamil Protest in Toronto (via Youtube; 30 January 2009)

Tamil Protest in Toronto (CP24, via Youtube; 31 January 2009)

Tamil Protest in Toronto (via Youtube; 10 May 2009)

Broken Windows, Burnt Cars Left by G20 Riots in Toronto (via Youtube; 27 June 2010)

G20 Protest Toronto 2010; Protesters vs.Police (via Youtube; 26 June 2010)

 ‘G20 Officer: ‘This Ain’t Canada Right Now.’ (Toronto Star, 20 January 2011)

G20 Toronto — Bike Protest (via Youtube; 27 June 2010)

G20 Protest Toronto; One Nice Moment (via Youtube; 27 June 2010)

G20 report blasts police for ‘unlawful’ arrests, civil rights violations (Globe & Mail, 16 May 2012)

Policing the Right to Protest: G20 Systematic Review Report (Office of the Independent Police Review Director, May 2012. Note: .pdf document opens)

 Tahrir Sq reacts to resignation (Al Jazeera English, via Youtube)

‘Blue bra’ girl brutally beaten by Egyptian military (via Youtube, 18 December 2011; warning: violence depicted)

Occupy Toronto Protesters Clash (via Youtube, 15 October 2011)

Thousands march in “Occupy Bay Street” (via Youtube, 15 October 2011)

Occupy Toronto Eviction Update (via Youtube, 23 November 2011)

Pepper Spray: US Campus Police Suspended (BBC World News, 20 November 2011; warming: violence depicted)

 Montréal : manif nationale étudiante 22 mars 2012 (via Youtube)

Protesters storm Montreal university, gang up on students in class (Globe & Mail, 16 May 2012)

Charest launches legislation to crack down on student protests (Globe & Mail, 17 May 2012) 

Anatomy of a crisis after 100 days of student protests (Montreal Gazette, 22 May 2012)

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