# LIBERTY SQUARE /// The Archipelago as a Territorial Manifesto

Manhattan Archipelago by Leopold Lambert, Oct 2011.

It would have probably not escaped to my regular readers that I am very much interested with the notion of archipelago. After celebrating the philosophy of Edouard Glissant, the poet of the archipelagos, after having created a metaphorical map representing the effective Palestinian territory under occupation as an archipelago, and after having launched a series of events external to the Academia with the same name, I would like to address the spatial implications of Occupy Wall Street via a similar filter.

It is true that this movement has been using the new technological tools of communication in order to spread its existence which was ignored by the Press; however it would be absolutely incorrect to assume that the “occupation” concerned here does not fund its principle on the presence of physical bodies on a given space in order to be effective. The practice of direct democracy exercised on this space registers the latter as a territory within a broader system, an heterotopia as Michel Foucault would describe this type of space, or more simply an island. Occupations started on Liberty Square, then on Washington Square Park, in Harlem, in the Bronx, in Brooklyn but also all over the American territory, thus composing an archipelago of “liberated” islands functioning in a precarious yet effective autonomy. This idea is fundamental in the construction of the movement as it differs from “traditional” revolutions that aim to conquer the centralized power’s territory but rather to propagate by the constitution of those islands that applies a form of society only for the bodies present on their territories. Of course, this territorial mean of acting is more difficult and requires more time than the traditional ones; however this seems to be the way to achieve an aware implication of each person on a given territory.

This model of the archipelago also helps us not to necessarily think in terms of totality but to accept the fragmentation of a territory in smaller ones on which it is easier to approach consensus. The very principle of the archipelago is to construct a collective essence with various individual -for each island- identities. The image of the interstitial water also allow to imagine a fluctuation of each island’s borders that can continuously evolve through time. In a general matter the archipelago spatializes a political system that diverse to be experienced. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a good opportunity to attempt such thing.

7 Comments on “# LIBERTY SQUARE /// The Archipelago as a Territorial Manifesto

  1. This reminds me of the work of dancer Xavier LeRoy – if I remember correctly, he once said that he was trying to create dance pieces with other people, but without anybody being the leader/director, and also without trying to reproduce a system where people would vote, etc. The reflexion was all about: how do you do something together, in a way that is neither an autocracy nor a traditional democracy, nor any known system of power transfer: ‘I wanted to work between the types of work processes that each of us knew and practiced, to be able to find new ones. I expected that we concentrated on the questions and problems I had proposed without taking refuge in the comfortable habits of known experiences that we could infinitely repeat.’
    The spontaneous archipelago you are talking about is like a spatial echo of this theory.
    (you can read more on X LR’s website, http://www.xavierleroy.com)

    • Thank you very much for sharing that here. This comparison is, indeed very interesting and I’ll dig into it !
      Thanks for following the blog

      Leopold

  2. a really compelling image.

    not just this post, but everything you posted about territorial or non-territorial new york is of great interest to me. keep it coming!

    Greetings from Vienna.
    Johan

  3. Pingback: # LIBERTY SQUARE /// About the notion of Occupying | The Funambulist

  4. Has Pier Vittorio Aureli’s “The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture” influenced your thinking?

    Paul

  5. Pingback: # POLITICS /// The Political Archipelago: For a New Paradigm of Territorial Sovereignty | The Funambulist

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