Cosmopolitan knowledge and the production and consumption of sexualised space:Manchester's Gay Village

Binnie, Jon and Skeggs, Beverley (2005) Cosmopolitan knowledge and the production and consumption of sexualised space:Manchester's Gay Village. In: Cosmopolitan Urbanism. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 220-245. ISBN 9780203504079

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Our approach to this chapter stems from a concern that the mutually constitutive politics of class and sexuality remain undertheorised in contemporary understandings of cosmopolitanism. In many disciplinary spaces class has been edged off the agenda by other differences, namely race and sexuality, as if they can be studied as independent and not mutually engaged categories of constitution and disruption. It is as if the body only carries one sign of difference in its corporeal baggage and that this sign of difference can be separated from the material history of its genealogy and reproduction. The unique contribution of this chapter is to systematically bring together discussions of the politics of class and sexuality within a study of cosmopolitanism grounded in a specific locality – Manchester’s Gay Village. We start by giving a brief introduction to theories of cosmopolitanism. What are the main ways we can characterise cosmopolitanism and what have been the main lessons and conclusions from the recent explosion of work in this area? Identifying the key issues in theorising the politics of sexuality, class and cosmopolitanism we proceed to introduce the case study – the production and consumption of cosmopolitan space in Manchester’s Gay Village. We explore the different physical and discursive constructions of cosmopolitanism and how they are lived in this particular marked space. Providing a discussion of the context to the study – the development of Manchester’s Gay Village – we examine the extent to which the space is branded as cosmopolitan. We then consider the way discourses of cosmopolitanism are deployed by users of the space to enable navigation of that space and the negotiation of difference. We argue that the term cosmopolitan is useful in helping to understand the unease and discomfort with being an appropriate or ‘proper’ user of the space which requires a fixity of identity, a possession of the right personae to pass through and occupy the space. This argument is developed with particular emphasis on the way heterosexual, ‘straight’ women consume the space. In asserting their claim on public space not of their own making, we ask whether this demonstrates a rejection of traditional hetero-masculinity and a permeable, transitional space for moving through sexualities, examining the extent to which straight women could be seen to use the space designed specifically for gay male consumption to reformulate the traditional gender relations which they inhabit. We argue that behind and within the articulation and desire for the fluidity of identity associated with the use of the term cosmopolitan, the rigidities of class and lesbian and gay identity are reproduced. In particular, class entitlement plays a major role in articulating and enabling who can be included and excluded from this space.

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10 Jun 2020 23:29
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19 Sep 2023 03:35