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Contested Urban Spaces: Development struggles as displacement of the borders of the political

Reflections on urban conflicts in Berlin.

In how far do urban development conflicts challenge our understanding of politics and ‘the political’? And in how far can they contribute to redefining the meaning of democratic politics in urban contexts This contribution to the Stadssalonurbains starts from the assumption that urban contention and conflict, rather than just revealing the existence of ‘structural’ contradictions of urban politics and governance, mark a significant shift in our understanding of the sphere of the political – of how it is experienced and practiced. It assumes that several observable features of urban contention and conflict reflect this shift in the form of emergent social struggles. Far from reflecting a purely theoretical debate, it looks therefore at conflicts as empirical manifestations of a struggle for redefining the borders of the political under conditions that may be analytically defined as ‘post-political’. The presentation advances some more general reflections on this topic based on a critical observation of distinctive features of urban conflicts in Berlin.

Enrico Gualini is Professor of Planning Theory and Urban-Regional Policy Analysis at the Institute for Urban and Regional Planning of Technische Universität Berlin. His research interests are the social construction of space and the political dimension of socio-spatial practices, the analysis of spatial development policies, the emergence of governance practices and the resulting challenges for democratic politics and institutions, as well as related theoretical debates. He is currently visiting fellow of the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is founder and coordinator of the AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group and the editor of Planning and Conflict: Critical Reflections on Contentious Urban Developments (Routledge, 2015) and co-editor of Conflict in the City: Contested Urban Spaces and Local Democracy (Jovis, 2015). He is currently co-editing a volume on the role of economic actors and policies in the construction of metropolitan space (forthc. 2017).


Enrico Gualini Technische Universität Berlin


17:30 > 19:30




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