Order and freedom

The communications colloquium that I organize at Columbia hosted Lisa Keller from SUNY Purchase today. She spoke about her recent book, Triumph of Order: Democracy and Public Space in New York and London.

In it, she looks at the different compromises made in the late nineteenth century in the two cities between demands for public order and the principles of freedom of assembly and speech.

Her presentation was wide-ranging, and the discussion too, and the book sounds very interesting, particularly as its comparative perspectives highlights the contingency of the different states of affairs that have been established, in Keller’s view a more control and order-oriented one in New York, and one leaning towards greater freedom, even at the cost of a little disorder, in London. The comparison is of course particularly interesting given New York’s reputation as a very liberal city, and London’s notoriety for CCTV surveillance and the like.

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