Thursday, September 13, 2007
Monbiot recently posted about the Climate Camp set up at Heathrow Airport. The Climate Camp (or Camp for Climate Action) is an organized effort by folks in the UK to simultaneously create a spectacle of protest and bring together discussions about climate crises. This got us thinking about the role of stasis in tourism, how there is often an expectation of temporary stability - a chance to camp, so to speak. Tourism is as much about the moments of not-moving as it is those fleeting moments of mobility. And so much of institutionalized travel is about creating environments, to the extent that a traveler can afford them, that are similar to those we inhabit while "at home." DVD players in automobiles, in-flight movies, first-class recliners on airlines...
What is more interesting to us however, is thinking about the other side of the politics of mobility - stasis. Much of the post millennium discourse on forms of political resistance focuses on the increase in mobility required to effectively protest global capital - moving through digital and social networks at speeds comparable to capital itself - but the language of civil disobedience has often revealed a significant amount of power in the act of not-moving as well. The sit-ins of the US civil rights/black freedom struggle, union picket lines, the tree sits and other tactics of Earth First! and even the arm lock blockades by contemporary protesters. This is not to counter the function of mobile actions (walk outs, etc) but to recognize the dual nature of mobility - movement only becomes meaningful when it's not there. Blocking things up is sometimes the only available means of dissent.
Camping is what you do between movements and once you get to where you're going. For those that are put in the position of permanent camps - those without permanent shelter in Los Angeles' "skid row" to the detainees at past and current internment camps - it is the institutional removal of mobility that makes inequities so visible, and why these "camps" are forcefully pushed to the margins of visibility.
Some associates known as Camp Campaign completed a project looking at just these sort of definitions of "camp", creating their own tour of camps across the US.
To get back to the initial spark that began this post, we are struck by the perpendicular development of affect visible in the actions of those desiring to alter our destructive institutions as well as in the actions of those very institutions. While the Climate Camp creates conviviality and protest through spectacular stasis, travelers passing through Heathrow will soon be able to get some atomized rest in the efficient luxury of the Yotel.
Image by Mike Langridge