Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Anna J. Secor


This dissertation shows how organizations, including local government and police, and residents within Seattle, Washingtons East Precinct define and police the contours of community, neighborhoods and public space. Under the rubric of public safety, these players create territorial geographies that seek to include only those who fit the narrowly conceived idea of a neighbor. Territoriality is exercised against the social Other in an attempt to build a cohesive community while at the same time excluding those who are seen as different or as non-conformant to acceptable behaviors in the neighborhood. This research provides a framework through which to examine how community policing produces an urban citizen subject and an idea of who belongs in public space. This work also combines discourses of abjection and public space showing how the two are linked together to form a contingent citizenship. Contingent citizenship describes a particular relationship between geography and citizenship. As I frame it, contingent citizenship is a public citizenship where one must conform to a social norm and act in a prescribed, appropriate way in the public sphere or fear repercussions such as incarceration, public humiliation or barring from public parks. This dissertation, through a synthesis of the literatures on abjection, public space and social control, provides an empirical example of how community policing controls, regulates and/or expels those socially constructed as the Other in public space. This dissertation also brings a geographic lens to questions of abjection, public space and social control. This dissertation is a comprehensive survey and analysis of how discourses surrounding public space produce a space that is exclusionary of those who are not conceived as citizens by structures intact within the city. This research shows how not all citizens (in the legal sense) fit the socio-cultural model of citizenship. Such contingent citizens are subject to more surveillance and policing in public space. Additionally, this research contributes to growing literature regarding how abjection plays into representations and understandings of public space.



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