Public Parks as Contested Spaces – NEW FOR 2020 / 2021

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Biweekly, Friday 2-4, Week 1 – Fall term only
space available

Public parks, both in Canada and around the world, are spaces for recreation, sports, conservation, education, commemoration, community and economic development, political protest and more. They also serve as cultural spaces for music, theatre, dance and film and in literature.

Public parks can be contested public spaces: To what extent do they reflect the struggle or cooperation between public and private actors, indigenous people and park authorities? What are their historical roots? Who has access, who is excluded? Do they honour indigenous rights? When and how do park visits degenerate into over-tourism? How have social media altered park use? When and why do parks serve as the site of political and social protests? How are parks used in wars and what is their role in climate change?

Participants may choose from a variety of topics and are expected to make a 20-minute presentation. There will be recommended readings for each topic, but none that are required of everybody.


Margrit Eichler ( is a retired Professor of Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE/U.of T. She considers public parks as public treasures, in complicated contexts.

Gwyneth Buck ( Following retirement from York University (administration) Gwyneth joined the Academy in 2012 and has been an avid member ever since. Parks have drawn her all her life – majestic Canadian wilderness parks; Toronto’s ravines; Montreal’s Parc Lafontaine; Berlin’s Parc Friedrichshain, and countless others.

Workshop Notes: