Unsettled crossings: Underpass journeys in an English town

Sergen Bahceci, Ben Bradford, Evi Girling, Ian Loader*, Richard Sparks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

What kinds of ‘sensory configurations’ (Thomas, 2010), and moral orders, are created in places that are simultaneously formed and rendered marginal by infrastructures of hegemonic automobility? In this paper, we explore this question with reference to one micro-site we have encountered in our current study of security and everyday life in an English town – Macclesfield in Cheshire. That site is the Gas Road underpass, a key pedestrian route between the town centre and the east of the town on the other side of its busiest road. Underpasses are generic urban artefacts, mundane features of necessity, of light and darkness, of entry and exit, of solitude and transient encounter. This residual place is for many users one to be passed through, often quite quickly, without particular engagement. It is, on the other hand, also a regular gathering point for the homeless and young people, and a focus for intervention by local authorities, responding to concerns about public drinking and other undesired activities. The underpass provokes concerned talk among residents about the safety of those who (have to) use it, and unsettled debate among local decision-makers over how to beautify, illuminate, regulate, or otherwise improve it. In the paper, we use film, photographs, interviews and in situ observation, to explore the contested ways in which this place is sensed. We argue for a situated understanding of how this residual space unsettles the town’s sense of place, and for acknowledgment of how history and landscape shape the local meanings of such places and journeys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalCriminological Encounters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • aesthetics
  • governance
  • mobilities
  • sense of place
  • unease

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