A 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!)