FAQ > Below is a list of FAQ - in progress - we will continue to update this page. > Why is your organisation called This Is Not A Gateway?
There is no beginning or end of a city, there is no place of entry and exit, there is no entrance that can be opened, there are no gateway texts, no gateway knowledges. In choosing to recognise ‘gateways’ we give others the ability to create boundaries, borders and limitations to our lives. More below.
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One of our goals in forming this organisation was to draw attention to and attempt to rectify the injustices and inequalities resulting from much recent urban development and consequently we looked for a name that would reflect this. By calling the organisation ‘This Is Not A Gateway’ we are endeavouring to address our concerns in a serious and but also humorous way. We wanted to place a ‘figurative flag of protest’ in, for example, the mudflats of projects like the Thames Gateway, a central government project supported almost universally by The Urban Industry to build tens of thousands of very low quality suburban homes across a floodplain to the east of London. We also wanted to raise a protest flag against attempts by businesspeople and bureaucrats to homogenise and create gateways in education.
The name is also a self-reflexive critique. We don’t wish to establish a canon or be seen as a ‘gateway’ to certain knowledges or approaches. The name is a challenge to the knowing or unknowing attempts to enclose and de-politicise the processes of conceiving, making and managing cities. While obvious in the formal education system, attempts at establishing these enclosures are sharply illuminated when studying the ‘public’ events of The Urban Industry: the conferences, lectures, festivals. The name stands in opposition to a concept embedded in the ideas and lexicons that are the foundations of The Urban Industry. It is an attempt to highlight the politics of cities and the politics of making cities, and a lampoon of Thatcher’s slogan: There Is No Alternative.
There is no beginning or end of a city, there is no place of entry and exit, there is no entrance that can be opened, there are no gateway texts, no gateway knowledges. In choosing to recognise ‘gateways’ we give others the ability to create boundaries, borders and limitations to our lives. In more cases than not, the barrier is first erected as a speculative and opportunistic manoeuvre. By accepting that a gateway exists we are in effect handing over our agency. Acknowledging the right for a gate, for enclosures to exist, either in the physical or metaphorical sense, is resigning oneself, submitting to the person or ideas that erected the barriers. These fences, these gates, must of course be challenged.
Not unlike Rene Magritte’s 1928 series of paintings The Treachery of Images and in particular Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This Is Not A Pipe), along with the arguments in Foucault’s book of the same title, we wanted to problematise agreed meanings and realities along with addressing Magritte’s and others’ call for a critical pedagogy. The need to do so was urgent as our experiences within cultural institutions, academia and urban regeneration revealed that many people were, unwittingly but in significant ways, legitimising aspects of the new strains of neo-liberalism across cities and thus themselves ushering into the fields a state of de-politicisation or post-criticality. It is the refusal to accept that space, place and cities could be depoliticised that inspired the name of the organisation.
Text taken from the Introduction to Critical Cities Vol 2 (October 2010)