drawing of Plecnik's Triple Bridge(*)

film 1 on Plecnik's Triple Bridge

film 1 on Plecnik's Triple Bridge


The sqridge metaphor finds its origins in a combination of two other metaphors. The first metaphor is the bridge, which can be seen as a metaphor for respectful academic-artistic exchanges. In its reference to the absent space - the space that needs to be spanned by the bridge - it brings in the notions of distance, difference and conflict, and the intense effort and investment it takes to build a connector. The fragility and locatedness of the bridges also signifies the complexity of these dialogical endeavours. Also, the bridge metaphor shows that the construction of academic-artistic connectors is possible, even when it is difficult. But, at the same time, there are problems with the bridge metaphor, as it connecting-two-shores structure grounds itself in a logics of dichotomisation. It also sets up the ideas that once the bridge has been constructed, it is easy to cross (Hall & Minnix, 2012: 67), and that a particular artefact (a bridge, and thus a theory, a method, ...) can play this connecting role (Repko, 2012: 27).

The second metaphor is the square, which serves as metaphor for the opportunities of interchange, (re)presentation and debate (see for instance Iveson's (2007: 3) definition of public space). Squares are accessible meeting places, that can be approached and entered from different sides. They are often the nerve centres of cities, where main buildings (town halls, churches, commercial headquarters, ...) are located. They are also places of celebration, protest and surveillance (Yesil, 2006). As a metaphor for academic encounters, it signifies the existence and accessibility of multiple common spaces, but also the possibility to easily leave these space (and return to the home). But again, this metaphor has its problems, as it downplays the efforts the engagement in agonistic practices require and moreover tends to (over)emphasise either the unity and homogeneity of the visitors, or the antagonism of the occupants (in whoever they are protesting against).

The combination of these two metaphors, into what is called the sqridge, serves the purpose of signifying agonistic academic-artistic spaces quite well. The sqridge metaphor incorporates the notion of diversity and conflict, which should not be erased but recognised, acknowledging that there are different positions (or river banks) in academia and the arts, that are structurally irreconcilable, but that can be connected. At the same time we should move away from a polarised way of thinking, keeping for instance Haraway's (1985: 96) critique on binary oppositions in mind (captured in the following sentence of the Cyborg Manifesto: "One is too few, but two are too many"). Here, we need the symbolic strength of the square and its reference to the easily accessible meeting grounds that will allow for more communication, collaboration and contestation, without barricades but with agnostic respect for diversity.


Carpentier, N. (2014). On Walls, Squares, Bridges and Sqridges: A framework to think about North-South dialogues in communication and media studies, Journal of Latin American Communication Research, 4(1), 1-17. (Most of the texts on this webpage were published in this article.)

Hall, A. M. & Minnix, C. (2012). Beyond the Bridge Metaphor: Rethinking the Place of the Literacy Narrative in the Basic Writing Curriculum, Journal of Basic Writing, 31(2), 50-75.

Haraway, D. (1985). A manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s, Socialist Review, 80 (March/April), 65-108.

Iveson, K. (2007). Publics and the City. Oxford: Blackwell.

Repko, A. F. (2012). Interdisciplinary Research. Process and Theory. London: Sage.

Yesil, B. (2006). Watching Ourselves: Video Surveillance, Urban Space and Self-Responsibilization, Cultural Studies, 20(4), 400-416.

(*) An architectural construction that comes close to the sqridge is Joze Plecnik's Triple Bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Source: http://ljubljanapastandpresent.blogspot.com/2013/11/cityscape-of-ljubljana.html

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