Emotive Geography (2): Westminster, Whitehall London

ImageA walk around Westminster during term time means coming across various protests – many of them longterm ones.

It’s always interesting to stop, and get a sense of the broad range of political and social causes that attract  varying sized crowds – from one woman protests that have been going on for years over Tibet, to a dozen fold protest on LGBT rights that perpetually revises its reasons to be present – to  scores of protestors on current international and national issues. 

Protest has the capacity to evoke a range of emotional responses – barring apathy and complete indifference.  There is a spectrum of feelings that one could associate with protest –  on one hand irritation and annoyance and on the other end, affinity and solidarity.

I tend to find myself somewhere toward the latter end of the spectrum – a dose of irritation on some days,  but the presence of protest and political activism is generally invigorating.

Whitehall, Westminster are place names that elicit feelings of being energized – politicised, being drawn toward being more politically aware and engaged.

The physical space  brings to mind certain colours, symbols, etc… but as an “affective space” – the area around Westminster evokes feelings of  restlessness, inspiration to be engaged politically – emotions of ‘politicisation’ if such a term exists to describe an emotional disposition.

If I were to place a description on a personal ‘affective map’ of London – Whitehall and Westminster would (at least in part) be described as a politicising space. 

Very few places that I have spent time in, outside of Washington DC, have a comparable atmosphere within which to live, study or have an academic career. London is a great setting for an inspired, invigorating context – at least if one takes time to take in a bit of the atmosphere around Westminster.


As part of a grateful graduate project  to collect 365 reasons to be grateful for the graduate student experience offered by London and Paris, I would add the  invigorating presence of protest in London and the area around Whitehall/Westminster in particular. Paris certainly does not have a similar ‘air’.  (That then counts as reason to be grateful 234 of 365!)