The focus is iconic buildings sited in the central, public space. It is further delimited to their architectural style. Political authority, though not singularly responsible for collective identity, has been selected as the point of departure because its contribution is decisive.
The role of politics, in imagining and actualizing collective identity is by no means insignificant. Therefore, it is as a product of political performance that Nairobi is interrogated. And the political power addressed includes the administration of the Uganda Railways, the colonial government and its indigenous counterpart.
Each regime's iconic buildings are examined: the Railways' station and headquarters, various government offices and the monumental neo-classical High Court and City Hall. An exploration of possible connotations and nuances of this style are sketched out. Kenyatta, the first indigenous president, distanced himself from the colonial neo-classical tradition. Stylistically, his Kenyatta International Conference Centre kicc is an antithesis to the neo-classical.
His preference was a stylised-African statement. These mental maps make it possible to locate the setting [Goffman, ] in which the perception of the gay neighbourhood activities takes on meaning, materialises and establishes its boundaries. Place Fontainas therefore seems to mark the transition in this projection.
Mental map Antoine. Does Place Fontainas separate a homosexual enclave from a city which is generally heterosexual? In the section under study, businesses without specific sexualised targeting such as Rachel or Asia Grill exist alongside businesses which target homosexual populations such as Stamm Bar, Macho Sauna and Le Fontainas. In addition, differences exist among businesses targeting homosexual populations. The interviews also reveal a heterosexual presence in places of socialisation such as Le Fontainas, as well as in places dedicated to sexual encounters, such as the sauna.
By recontextualising some of the studies conducted on furtive and anonymous homosexual encounters between heterosexual men [Humphreys, ], Jane Ward  shows that certain homosexual practices take place in a variety of places. She underlines the complexity of male sexuality, often perceived as rigid, and shows its fluidity, pointing out the subtleties in sexual orientations, identities and practices. And while lesbians gather in certain places in Brussels, such as the recent venue Mothers and Daughters, they are generally located outside the gay neighbourhood and are most often short lived [Martineau, ].
It is also a spatial referent of the community, often part of the urban experience of gay people, playing a role in identity building and coming out [Valentine and Skelton, ]. Beyond the bars and clubs, there are also places of refuge in the neighbourhood [ As of Place Fontainas, homosexual display is once again perceived as unsuitable and practices and behaviour adapt to this: less flirting and affectionate gestures are seen, there is an adjustment of physical appearance, accelerated pace.
These elements allow us to draw an analogy with the urban experience of women, dictated by behavioural adjustment strategies such as playing on appearance, taking certain routes or means of transportation rather than others, etc.
First, it is objectified on the basis of an arrangement of spatial objects which promote being together businesses, signage, etc. These spatial objects disappear as of Place Fontainas and promote the perception of a border. Secondly, this seems to be linked to the dichotomous perceptions of an enclave of identity in which heterosexual codes are renegotiated, in a more global context of the symbolic inferiority of homosexuality in the public space.
Due to the disappearance of the area for being among themselves and of identity referents, which is perceived to exist as of Place Fontainas, the square constitutes a gradual border between one space and another, between a non-heteronormative identity space and heteronormative spaces. Finally, the border is objectivised by the perception of a generally violent public space and by heterosexual reactions, which contribute to a feeling of insecurity which is partly reduced by the neighbourhood, being together, the businesses and the gay associations. Place Fontainas is therefore a transition area, not so much between a heterosexual space and a homosexual enclave, but rather between different normative codes in which the body as a medium through which expression allows the individual to incorporate space [Fournier, ], its display, and the relationship to others, are governed by different rules.
Its clients, almost all of whom are male, are predominantly white. Their appearance is characterised by neatness, fashionable clothes and accessories, a clean and refined look and thin and muscular bodies. They seem quite young and mainly from a North African background. About fifty metres away, businesses providing similar services reveal certain contrasts, in particular with respect to class. Contrary to the widespread myth that businesses in these areas promote social mix through an alternative commercial offer, they seem to attract a relatively homogeneous clientele Zamora and Van Criekingen, They are white and well-to-do, and are in keeping with the dominant consumption practices and lifestyles.
The boulevard is wide and is part of a historically working class neighbourhood [Van Criekingen, ] where the average per capita income is among the lowest in the Brussels Region 6 , and has a large number shops selling cheap items. For me, it is really the border between the two and I think there is a lot of violence there.
The socio-economic and ethnic dimensions thus fuel the existence of a boundary and an area of tension in an in-between space with a co-presence, whose representation is governed, not by an exclusive class differential, but by the perceived dichotomy between an ethno-religious categorisation and the spatialisation of a sexual identity.
However, despite the perceptions, the boundaries are not impermeable, as the spaces are not homogeneous. In this regard, Huysentruyt et al. Furthermore, a feeling that women are not allowed in addition to the projection of a space for socialisation among male homosexuals solidifies their invisibility. This observation is all the more obvious when evening falls and women become less and less visible, in spaces or infrastructures where people tend to be immobile, as well as in passages.
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This masculine continuity can be understood in relation to the invisible boundary between domestic and public spaces, contributing to social partitioning, whereby women are assigned to the domestic space, in accordance with ideas of what is feminine and what is masculine. On Place Fontainas and in Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier, the presence of women sometimes gives rise to male reactions or remarks which ensure a solid gender-based exclusion: whistles, flirting, insults, attacks, etc. A local resident mentioned her recurring experience of this behaviour:. This masculine continuity reveals asymmetrical gender relations which seem to be established both outside and by the spaces, drawing self-generating relationships in which public spaces are both the reflections of a social order which transcends them, and the sites for the production and reproduction of this order.
Some practices such as visible homosexual flirting or transgressive self-presentation are anchored there and take place in relation to the representation of other heteronormative spaces in which the possibility of transgressing gender and sexual norms is associated with danger. The gay neighbourhood remains the prerogative of middle-class white gay men and conveys a normative and monolithic image of homosexuality, i. On the one hand, this female absence is understood in relation to the perception of a dangerous space in which the risk is linked to the perception of a space associated with a difference in gender, class and ethnicity.
On the other hand, it is understood through the homosexualised projection of a space associated with gay male socialisation, limiting its access by women. This article shows the importance of distinguishing between gender and sexuality, often considered together when they are analysed, as the two dimensions generating different urban experiences. However, in contrast to normative rhetoric, gendered or racialised homosexual populations exist, are seen in the city and in the gay neighbourhood and are the subject of intersectional oppression, among others in and by the public space.
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Although we can be glad that LGBTI issues are being integrated into public policies, they generally contribute to reproducing this normative image, which is also widely disseminated by the media at times or by tourism promotion policies. Recently, certain public services such as Unia or Actiris have begun to include intersectionality in their objectives.
Intimité et regard(s). Le soutien-gorge comme frontière par L. Gehl
I would like to express my warm thanks for our many discussions, his proofreading and his invaluable help. Paris: Antrhopos. Les territoires dans la ville. Genre et espace public en Belgique Francophone.
Laudato si' (24 mai )
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