call for chapters ("The Politics and Practices of Urban Renewal")
THE POLITICS AND PRACTICES OF URBAN RENEWAL
Urban theory finds itself at the intersection of various disciplines. Urban sociology, social and urban anthropology, cultural studies, human geography, economic geography, gender studies, and the like focus on the city as their primary object. What we see today is the growing interest to the problems of urban renewal.
This Call for Chapters looks for scholarship that focuses on urban ‘reuse’ and revitalization of historic and industrial sites, politics of memory in contemporary cities, practices of resistance and other aspects related to urban renewal.
In such multidisciplinary perspective, various politics and representations of urban renewal signal harsh spatial and social problems that stay in the way of what we already got used to call just city space.
City’s historic districts fall prey to the forces of incoming capital. Instead, the developers would come up with the projects of numerous replicas of historic buildings or kitschy ‘historicism’ of the brand new blocks (e.g. Kontraktova Square, Vozdvizhenka housing development /Kyiv, Ukraine/), that demonstrates the drastic lack of an efficient strategy in the field of preservation of historic heritage. Meanwhile, calls for conservation of historic districts for the sake of conservation would prevent finding the consensus on functionality, convenience for inhabitants, and preservation.
The power discourses of urban renewal and economic modernization seem to cover up increasingly stronger processes of gentrification of urban space and evictions as spatial politics. These processes are followed by the extensive commercialization or loss of public spaces, depriving it from their traditional meanings and functions. Likewise, these processes are also followed by the exclusion of local communities, local inhabitants, visitors, citizens and the like if only they are not the ‘consumers.’ Moreover, the ‘stakeholders’ thus are deprived of their right to have a say on the decisions on the city development.
Hence, the representations of urban renewal are turned into a mechanism of occupation of the city spaces by the capital that tends to fix itself spatially, as David Harvey puts it.
The strategies of media representation of urban renewal and urban planning, or those dealing with ‘branding’ – commercial promotion of cities, – are often used to disguise insufficient or even zero level transparency and efficiency of transformations in the city space, suggesting the only possible versions of reading the city meanings and the only possible ways of usage of city spaces (e.g. “Euro 2012”: The city of football) instead of heterogeneity of meanings. In the last decade, this change and standardization of public spaces under the pretense of their renovation has become ubiquitous practice in Ukrainian cities.
Hence, the questions become: Is just revitalization of the city spaces at all possible? Could the ‘participatory urbanism’ be operative for the neo-liberalist politics? How we are to work out the socially just strategy of historic preservation? How the politics of memory impact the urban renewal and what is to be ‘monumentalized’ or ‘commemorated’? What is the potential of de-industrialization, and is it possible to turn the former industrial zones not only into commercial sites, as it is usually done in Ukrainian cities?
Public frustration has been channeled into various forms of community action directed at corporate or municipal abuses worldwide. Thus, we would like to analyze: How effective are these city ‘protests’ in combating the capital that seems to be already ‘spatially fixed’ and, equally, in creating alternative public spaces? How diverse are the practices of resistance to urban renewal, and how diverse is the specter of actors? How ‘the collective subject’ of resistance is being constructed, and could the local community make such a ‘subject’? How effective are the practices of resistance to the processes of gentrification, in Ukrainian cities, in particular? How the community action could help to overcome the results ‘rational city planning’ and functional zoning of cities?
What is attempted here is a broad survey of trends in the historical and contemporary panorama, combining thematic and chronological approaches.
Questions for consideration may include, but are not limited to:
• complexity and contradictions: the “new functionality” vs. the historic heritage (relations between functionality, renewal and museumification as ‘museomizing’ activity /or conservation for the sake of conservation/);
• the politics of memory in urban spaces;
• Ukrainian misbalance: hyperbolization of the role of the historic heritage in the discursive realm on one hand, and ‘the reality’ – on the other;
• ‘The concept of historic preservation’ and a ‘right to the past’: who is to decide on what deserves preservation and what could be ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of renewal; who is to claim a ‘right to the past’, etc.
• the practices of ‘pseudo-historicizing’ as a politics of urban renewal in the historic parts of the cities; the practices of ‘pseudo-historicizing’ as an efficient instrument of gentrification of city spaces;
• cultural diversity in city spaces: its articulations and representations; ‘zones of contact’ in the city and the politics of urban planning
• the ‘urban tradition’: public spaces and local traditions, spatial practices and ‘urban memories’ of its users; ‘civic identity’ and ‘place-based identities’
• ‘Civic values’ – urban values – historic heritage – urban renewal (working out, articulation, dissemination, contradictions, etc.)
• Successful/unsuccessful cases of restoration or preservation of cultural (architectural) heritage;
• ‘Urban renewal’ as a discursive strategy/construction; ‘urban renewal’ as represented in different discourses (e.g. power, media, tourist, everyday, etc.)
• Politics of urban renewal and the habitat;
• Renovation as means of appropriation of the city spaces and gentrification;
• Quasi-public spaces, ‘spaces of consumerism,’ ‘gated communities,’ fragmentation and ‘clusterization’ of city spaces; evictions as spatial politics;
• Planning for urban renewal; ‘participative urbanism’ /European, post-socialist practices/;
• Just city spaces and the practices of ‘revitalization’;
• Reconsideration of modernist/rational city-planning, functional zoning, etc.
• Different approaches to de-industrialization /post-Industrial cities in Europe and North America, post-socialist and post-Soviet cities;
• Social conflicts and reaction to the policies of renovation and gentrification;
• Alternative urban places and spatial practices;
• The practices of resistance; reclaiming the city spaces /stories of success and the stories of failures/
We invite you to submit short proposals /in English, German, Russian or Ukrainian/ (up to 300 words).
A 300 word proposal should be sent either to the editor, Dr. Svitlana Shlipchenko: firstname.lastname@example.org , or to the project coordinator, Andriy Makarenko: Andriy.Makarenko@ua.boell.org. The deadline for proposals is May 15, 2013. Contributors will be notified by May 31, 2013. Final drafts (10,000 characters max) will be due by July 25, 2013.
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