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Increasingly, the expression of dissent at major events is controlled with a territorial strategy – it is banned from some areas and confined to others. One of the more notable uses of this strategy was in Seattle in 1999 during the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization. After widespread unrest forced the cancellation of the conference's first day of events, the City of Seattle erected what it termed a “restricted access” zone, and what its critics termed a “no protest” zone. I use the Seattle events to consider what it means for the state to zone the expression of dissent in such a fashion. I extend and complicate Mitchell's notion of a “dialectic of public space” by outlining seven different perspectives from which one can view the protest-zoning state. This multiplicative nature of the state, I suggest, provides yet more reason to be skeptical of state efforts to confine dissent. Because the state is inherently a contested object, it must remain susceptible to robust discussion of its practices.
Journal: Political Geography - Volume 26, Issue 5, June 2007, Pages 601–619