Bridger, Alexander J. (2005) Manchester after the IRA bomb of 1996: Political community strategies and situated urban knowledges. In: First International Conference Community, Work and Family: Change and Transformation, 16th-18th March 2005, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper will discuss the impact of the Manchester Arndale Centre bombing of 1996 and the strategies of urban town planners, architects, the City Council and the Task Force to rebuild the central districts of Manchester according to a democratic capitalist model. The implications of rebuilding, reinvention and regeneration to enable the people of Manchester to ‘live, work and play’ in a context designed to be a major European city will be discussed in relation to the political framework of the situationists. Before discussing the relevance of situationist theory to the urban context of Manchester and its communities, I will briefly describe some background information to the political group known as the situationists. Then I will describe and evaluate the situationist concepts of detournement and dérive within their frameworks of unitary urbanism and psychogeography. This will be done in order to critically assess the democratic urban responses to the bombing in terms of the reinvention of the city centre of Manchester as a new European capital. This will involve a presentation of detourned psychogeographic maps of the Arndale Centre, Corporation Street and Market Street and other relevant areas. Furthermore, these studies will entail an evaluation of the use of psychogeography as a relevant mode of politically integrated inquiry to lead to radically new ways of navigating the city as non-alienated individuals as part of larger communities. These ideas can be said to be rooted within traditional Marxist conceptualisations of alienation in the workplace, the family and within leisure time and the following situationist concepts as outlined above can used as strategies to subvert these inherently held assumptions of capitalist society.

Several important moral, ethical and political dimensions to this research will need to be addressed in terms of: the problematic issue of academic and everyday knowledges and of the importance of producing knowledges within everyday contexts; the necessity of social change to occur within the context of the urban environments as opposed to other abstract contexts, and to consider my positioning as a psychologist interpreting the effects of the Arndale bombing and the subsequent regeneration of the city centre using the situationist framework.

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