Strategies and intervention of the production of space. The European City: A Conceptual Framework in Crisis

Link: TISS 280.392

VO Vorlesung / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 4.0

**This course will be offered by City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2016 Sybille Frank (TU Berlin) and by Ass. Prof. Sabine Knierbein. The elaboration of the course outline has been supported by study assistant Angelika Gabauer who has offered a political science perspective into issues of recent planning for public spaces and urban cultures.**

i. Aim of the course

In this lecture the concept of the European City as it was developed by scholars such as Walter Siebel at the end of the 20th century will serve as departure point for exploring the diverse crises that impact upon European cities in the present. We will give an overview of prominent statements by scholars who set out to name and address some of the diverse knowledge, political, cultural, economic and social crises that have seized the European City both as a normative project and as a conceptual framework. Their contributions often assumed the form of new models for imagining and conceptualizing the current challenges European cities face. Most of these models also entail, at least implicitly, fresh ideas for saving, overcoming or reinventing traditional European urban routines with a view to economic activity, local government, cultural policy, urban planning, everyday city life or scientific reasoning about the city. The lecture will introduce and critically discuss some of the most prominent of these models against the background of both questions of urban solidarity and the models’ relevance for current urban planning and research. How do these and further scholars address urban cultures and public spaces in their overall conceptions of the urban, urbanization processes and the city, and which roles and meanings are attributed to public life and everyday cultural expression in these writings? The lecture will combine two perspectives from urban and cultural sociology and from public space research and urban cultural theory (both within urban studies) to offer multiple entry points into understanding the city both as a cause and a solution for the crisis, but also as its main sphere where an understanding of crisis, and its multiple creative and destructive situations, is generated.

ii. Contents of the course

The lecture will trace and critically discuss prominent explanatory models for current European urban political, cultural, economic, knowledge and social crises such as the Entrepreneurial City, the Culturalised City, the Global City, the Postcolonial City and the Rebel City and will put them in relation to different conceptions in planning theory and the theory of space (post positivist planning, performative planning, insurgent planning, relational planning, counter planning and agonistic planning). Connected to this, we will look into present forms of urban solidarity that seek to sustain, but sometimes also challenge and threaten, life in European cities (and beyond) that is increasingly being shaped by the diverse crises we explored. To this end we will particularly evaluate new social movements that wish to share goods and services and aim at creating counter-models to urban life shaped by a capitalist system and an austere local state. And we will investigate exclusive forms of solidarity as they are currently promoted by some right-wing political movements that actively argue for disuniting ‘undesired’ groups of people in order to save European culture. What could the contribution of urban planning and research to these new tendencies look like?

“The Metropolis, Mental Life and Urban Ways of Living“ (Lecture Uni 0, Sybille Frank / Sabine Knierbein)

This lecture unit aims to lay the common ground for reflecting on the metropolis as a spatial setting that on the one hand forces its inhabitants to put up with constant crises of diverse kinds, but that on the other hand also enables them to develop routines of crises that make it possible to experience stability, sociability and freedom even so. The lecture unit will also dedicate time to discuss students’ particular interests in this lecture series, and to propose how the lecture should be ideally run. Moreover, a general outline of the module will be presented.

1. Simmel, Georg (1969 [1903]): The Metropolis and Mental Life, in: Sennett, Richard (ed.): Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, pp. 47-60.
2. Eckardt, Frank and Javier Ruiz Sánchez (eds): City of Crisis. The Multiple Contestation of Southern European Cities. Bielefeld: Transcript.

“The European City: A normative concept and its present challenges“ (Lecture Unit 1, Sybille Frank)

This lecture unit will introduce students to the concept of the ‘European City’ as it was prominently developed by German urban sociologist Walter Siebel in the early 2000s. It will present five characteristics of the European City coined by Siebel that will further guide us through this lecture: (1) pre-modern heritage, (2) hope and emancipation, (3) public and private sphere, (4) centrality, and (5) regulation and welfare. It will report on the many challenges that, according to Siebel, the European City faces today. Moreover, this unit will critically address the ideological foundations of the concept, and introduce some recent arguments against its normative framework. It will also give an example of the use of the concept as a battle cry in recent urban development processes. Lastly, the question of whether or not we may speak of a crisis, or even an end, of the European City will be discussed.

1. Siebel, Walter/Wehrheim, Jan (2006): Security and the Urban Public Sphere, in: German Policy Studies 3 (1), pp. 19-46. Online: http://www.spaef.com/file.php?id=871.
2. Häußermann, Hartmut (2005): The End of the European City?, in: European Review 13, pp 237-249.

Original title (in German): Siebel, Walter (2004): Einleitung: Die europäische Stadt, in: Siebel, Walter (ed.): Die europäische Stadt. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, pp. 11-50.

“Public Space under Siege. Urban restructuring and the ’European City’“ (Lecture Unit 2, Sabine Knierbein)

European cities are changing rapidly due to processes of de-industrialization, European integration and economic globalization. Within those cities public spaces are the meeting place of politics and culture, social and individual territories, instrumental and expressive concerns. This lecture unit investigates how public spaces are used, instrumentalized and transformed into core catalysts of processes of urban transformation and capital accumulation in European cities. The ideal-type conception of the European city however, does not coincide with the empirical evidence found in 13 case studies where the seemingly authentic history meets the eclectic diversity of the present. A widening of the focus of the historical palimpsest from central public spaces to every day places situated in the urban peripheries allows a more nuanced understanding of the challenges that contemporary cities in Europe face. The lecture (1) addresses different interpretations of patterns of urban restructuring (e.g. postfordist, neoliberal), (2) offers a political science-inspired reading of Foucault’s theory of Governmentality as an explanatory frame for a historical analysis of urban restructuring led by rational and technocrat rationales as one facet of a historical analysis of different phases of capitalism, and (3) establishes a connection to post-positivist planning theories that seek to overcome rational choice models of planning.

1. Postfordist urban policies, birth of ‘neoliberal’ urban policies, growing urban inequalities
Madanipour, Ali, Knierbein, Sabine and Aglaée Degros (2014) A Moment of Transformation. IN: Madanipour, Ali, Knierbein, Sabine and Aglaée Degros (eds) Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe. London/New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-8.
2. Foucault’s theory of Governmentality
Foucault, Michel (1991): Governmentality, in: Burchell, Graham, Gordon, Colin and Miller, Peter (eds.): The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality, London (u.a.): Harvester Wheatsheaf. Pp. 87-104.
3. Post positivist planning
Allmendinger, Philipp (2002) The Post-Positivist Landscape of Planning Theory. IN: Allmendinger, Philipp and Marc Tewdwr Jones (eds) Planning Futures. New Directions for Planning Theory. London/New York: Routledge. Pp. 3-17.

“Heritage Crisis: Negotiating the German colonial past in Berlin’s African Quarter“ (Lecture Unit 3, Sybille Frank. Public Evening Lecture)

This lecture will introduce the ongoing dispute over street names in Berlin’s Afrikanisches Viertel (African Quarter). In 1899, Berlin named two of its newly-built streets “Togo Street” and “Cameroon Street”. Togo and Cameroon had been proclaimed the first German colonies in 1884. By 1958, 22 Berlin streets had been named after African regions that had been colonized by the German Empire, or after German colonial protagonists. In 2004, several NGOs called for a renaming of some of these streets, igniting a still ongoing, fierce dispute over the heritage status of the German colonial past in public places. Drawing on guided interviews and document analyses, this lecture will carve out the authoritative discursive power of ‘traditional’ ‘Western’ notions of temporality and spatiality prevailing (not only) in Berlin.

1. Engler, Jenny (2013): Renaming Streets, Inverting Perspectives: Acts Of Postcolonial Memory Citizenship in Berlin, in: Focus on German Studies 20, pp. 41-61.
2. Massey, Doreen (1991): A global sense of place, in: Marxism Today 38, pp. 24-29.

“Political Crisis: The entrepreneurial city“ (Lecture Unit 4, Sybille Frank)

This lecture unit will present the concept of the ‘Entrepreneurial City as it was developed in the 1990s, and it will give reasons for the rise of entrepreneurial cities throughout Europe. ‘New urban politics’ (such as public-private partnerships), ‘new urban policies’ (such as city-marketing), and new understandings of the role of cities in an age of intensified inter-urban competition are presented as typical ways of both thinking about and governing today’s European cities. There will also be time to discuss to what extent this concept indicates a political crisis of the European city model.

1. Hubbard, Phil/Hall, Tim (1998): The Entrepreneurial City and the ‘New Urban Politics’, in: Tim Hall and Phil Hubbard (eds): The Entrepreneurial City. Geographies of Politics, Regime and Representation. Chichester et al., pp. 1-23.
2. Mayer, Margit (1994): Post-Fordist City Politics, in: Ash Amin (ed.): Post-Fordism. A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 316-337.

“The Body under pressure. The political and politics of affect(s)“ (Lecture Unit 5, Sabine Knierbein)

The lecture will (1) offer an understanding of embodied protest as an affective form of staging dissent and thereby shaping ‘the political’ in the city. By taking on a particular perspective from the field of radical anthropology on the embodied dimension of protest, different examples of bodily protest in public spaces will be explored and discussed. Does it make a difference to expose your body on a public street or to twitter your claims into the virtual worlds that social networks make use of? In a successive part (2) the lecture will deal with the concept of ‘politics of affect’: How does embodied action, or, as Setha Low coins it: embodied space, relate to an (analytical, interpretative) understanding of the relevance of feelings, experience and affect that is very much inscribed in theories dealing with urban cultures. How do both embodied and affective experience relate to the shaping of the political in contemporary European cities? Finally (3) a transfer will be established between considerations linking embodied space conceptions, politics of affect and a new strand in post-positivist planning, that is, performative planning.

1. Embodied space: role of civil society, role of embodied action, body-politics
Moore, Sheehan (2013) Taking Up Space: Anthropology and embodied protest. Radical Anthropology. Vol. 7/2013. Pp. 6-16. URL: http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/journal/ra_journal_nov_2013_6-16.pdf (latest access 05/02/16)
2. Politics of affect
Hardt, Michael (2007): Foreword. What Affects Are Good For. In: Clough, Patricia T./Halley, Jean (eds.): The Affective Turn. Theorizing the Social. Duke Univ. Press. Pp. Ix-xiii
3. Performative planning
Altrock, Uwe and Sandra Huning (2015) Cultural interventions in urban public spaces and performative planning: Insights from shrinking cities in Eastern Germany. In: Tornaghi, Chiara and Sabine Knierbein (eds) Public Space and Relational Perspectives. New Challenges for Architecture and Planning. London/New York. Routledge. Pp. 148-166.

“Cultural Crisis: The culturalised city“ (Lecture Unit 6, Sybille Frank)

European cities have faced a range of challenges in the realm of culture in the past years. In this lecture unit students will be acquainted with theories that analyse in which ways culture became part of a new urban ‘symbolic economy’, leading not only to a commodification of urban landscapes but also to a spatial blurring of the public and private sphere. Students will also be familiarised with ideas on how the largely strategic way in which current European cities tend to approach culture has impacted on the everyday practices of urban dwellers who increasingly adjust their lifestyles to demands for ‘creativity’.

1. Zukin, Sharon (1992): Postmodern Urban Landscapes. Mapping Culture and Power, in: Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman (eds): Modernity and Identity. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 221-246.
2. Reckwitz, Andreas (2010): The Self-Culturalisation of the City: On the Transformation of Modern Urbanity in the ‘Creative City’. ESA Research Network Sociology of Culture Midterm Conference: Culture and the Making of Worlds. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1699808.

“Contested everyday space. Non-social movements and insurgent planning“ (Lecture Unit 7, Sabine Knierbein) 

International Public Space Research offers (1) a plethora of approaches to adopt, appropriate and act in public space through changing everyday practices (e.g. everyday urbanism, ordinary city, insurgent planning, insurgent public space, etc.). Their importance of places of everyday life in the city is once again stressed by reconsidering lived space dimensions (e.g. in planning and architecture). While (2) the focus of this stream of thought rests on marginalized groups and those parts of the urban society that do not feel integrated into mainstream society and hegemonic governance, a growing critique of (bourgeois) social movements (and their failures) gains momentum. The lecture will (3) establish a link between these recent ways of challenging architecture and planning education through the focus on the everyday dimension of urban space, and will offer an introduction into related strands in planning and design, that is, insurgent planning.

1. Everyday urbanism, ordinary city
Crawford, Margaret (1999) Introduction. IN: Chase, John, Crawford Margaret and John Kaliski (eds) Everyday urbanism. New York. The Monacelli Press. Pp. 8-18
2. Non-social movements, alternative paths of counter space/publics through everyday practices
Bayat, Asef (2010): Life as politics: how ordinary people change the Middle East. Stanford. Stanford Univ. Press. Pp. 14-26 (Sozial nonmovements), 56-60 (The quiet encroachment of the ordinary).
3. Faranak Mirafthab (2009) Insurgent Planning: Situating Radical Planning in the Global South. Planning Theory. February 2009. Vol. 8, No. 1, Pp. 32-50.

“Lived Space Dialectics. Combined activism and relational counter space“ (Lecture Unit 8, Sabine Knierbein)

Cities of the Global North witness an increase in urban inequalities which is visible and can be analyzed both through public space and housing research. With a combined dialectical focus on city publics and city dwellers, their spatial practices and patterns of acting space, urban researchers can try to understand patterns of increasing precarious living conditions, poverty and discrimination. This public evening lecture starts from the hypothesis that dialectical ways of enquiry that seek to overcome the public/private distinction need to be (re)established in order to analyze the absences and silences from public space in private space and the relations between them (and vice versa). Three ‘crossovers’ between the fields of public space and housing research (developed from former) will be offered:

  • Public Space and Housing Activism Combined. The case of Spain.
  • Silences and absences from public space and housing research. A feminist critique.
  • Reestablishing spatial dialectics: Public space as relational counter space.

1. Public space and housing activism combined
Melissa García Lamarca (2016/7) Recuperating the public through housing rights struggles in Spain. In: Hou, Jeff and Knierbein, Sabine (2016/7 forthcoming) City Unsilenced. Public space and urban resistance in the age of shrinking democracy. Pp. Tbc.
2. Dialectics private-public (feminist critique of public/private divide or of public space)
Susan Ruddick (2004) Domesticating Monsters, Cartographies of Difference and the Emancipatory City. In: Lees, Lorretta (eds) The emancipatory city. London. Sage. Pp. 23-39
3. Relational planning
Knierbein, Sabine (2015) Public Space as Relational Counter Space: Scholarly Minefield or Epistemological Opportunity? In: Tornaghi, Chiara and Sabine Knierbein (eds) Public Space and Relational Perspectives. New Challenges for Architecture and Planning. London/New York. Routledge. Pp. 148-166.

“Economic Crisis: The global city“ (Lecture Unit 9, Sybille Frank)

In this lecture unit we will turn to a recent model of reasoning on new patterns of economic and spatial organisation induced by globalisation processes since the 1990s: the global city model. It argues that macro-economic developments essentially impact on today’s European cities, and that the current spatial organization of the world economy does not allow us any more to think about the European city as being mainly dependent upon its hinterland. On the contrary, new transnational networks are established between certain types of cities, effecting deep social divides in urban labour markets and thus growing inter-urban and intra-urban inequalities.

1. Sassen, Saskia (2005): The Global City. Introducing a Concept, in: Brown Journal of World Affairs XI (2), pp. 27-43.
2. Musil, Robert (2014): European Global Cities in the Recent Economic Crisis. In: Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 105 (4), pp. 492–503.

“City Unsilenced. Urban resistance against increasing social inequality“ (Lecture Unit 10, Sabine Kniebein)

The European city has long been the site of social and political struggles. As the manifestation of social organization, power, and politics, urban settings are also places in which those relationships are contested and sometimes overthrown. In 2011, urban resistance returned to the headlines of global news media through global incidents such as the Arab Spring protests and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. In Brazil, rounds of Free Fare Movement protests joined by thousands of young people, students repeatedly forced the local governments to cancel the increase of bus fare. In Taipei, university students took over the country’s Parliament building and occupied it for 24 days in protest against the passage of a trade pact with China that would further erode the nation’s economy and democratic institution. Yet as well cities in Europe increasingly witnessed the resurgence of emancipatory struggles and practices of resistance: In Greece, Portugal, and Spain, the indignados movements organized demonstrations against austerity policies. In Stuttgart, protestors demonstrated against the redevelopment of the city’s main railway station by occupying the public park that would be vastly destroyed by the redevelopment. In Istanbul, citizens protested against the proposed urban design project foreseen for Gezi Park near Taksim Square by setting up encampment on the park. These recent acts of urban resistance share many things in common. In addition to the popular use of social media and the adoption of a horizontal structure for mobilization, many of the protests have re-introduced public space, in forms of streets, squares, parks, and parliament buildings, as the stage for political struggle. This re-centering of focus on public space is particularly significant as it comes at a time when public space, understood as the embodied geography of the public sphere (Low and Smith 2005) have been undermined after decades of corporatization, privatization, commodification, enforcement of hyper-security in many parts of the world. This lecture is an attempt to better understand that the current waves of urban protests are inherently linked to rapidly changing structural conditions and the decline of (national) democracies. It (1) offers an insight into the post-occupy struggles in public space against a new tech-led gentrification (San Francisco), (2) emphasises recent political theory accounts that seek to explain the omnipresent democratic deficits of state governance and (3) establishes a link to what Sandercock (1998, p. 169) has coined as ‘counter(hegemonic) planning. Here, (3) a critique of communicative planning and initial thoughts on the relation of planning and design disciplines and counter-hegemonic movements will be developed.

1. Political movements against rising urban inequality
Manissa McCleave Maharawal (2016/7) San Francisco’s Tech-led Gentrification: Public Space, Protest, and the Urban Commons. In: Hou, Jeff and Knierbein, Sabine (2016/7 forthcoming) City Unsilenced. Public space and urban resistance in the age of shrinking democracy. Pp. Tbc.
2. Resistance, alternative public space, concept of “presentist democracy”
Lorey, Isabell (2014): The 2011 Occupy Movements: Rancière and the Crisis of Democracy. In: Theory, Culture & Society, December 2014, vol. 31, 7-8: pp 43-65.
3. Counter planning, planning in support of counter(hegemonic) movements
Purcell, Marc (2009) Resisting Neoliberalization: Communicative Planning or Counter-Hegemonic Movements? Planning Theory May 2009 vol. 8 no. 2, Pp. 140-165.

“Social crisis: The Right to the City“ (Lecture Unit 11, Sybille Frank)

In this lecture unit students will be acquainted with current academic diagnoses of the social crisis of the European city. After having joined the overall political trend of an ‘austerity urbanism’ that abandoned much of the regulation- and welfare-oriented European City concept, most European cities are faced with manifold social movements that actively resist this current trend of governing cities. This lecture unit will introduce new urban protest movements that claim their ‘right to the city’, as well as academic research that criticizes these protest groups for their self-reference and overt middle-class orientation.

1. Harvey, David (2012): Rebel Cities. From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. London/New York: Verso, pp. 67-88.
2. Mayer, Margit (2013): First world urban activism. Beyond austerity urbanism and creative city politics, in: City. Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action 17 (1), pp. 5-19.

“Public Space Unbound. Urban emancipation and the post-political city” (Lecture Unit 12, Sabine Knierbein)

Debates over emancipation, albeit not always explicitly outlined as the subject of planning and design discourses, have been providing valuable impetus to both urban research and practice, ever since the linkages between emancipation and the city have been affirmed in the philosophical foundations of social sciences. Throughout the 20th century a series of emancipatory spatial practices as well as accompanying scientific debates rendered urban spaces a liberating ground of opportunity and possibility, cosmopolitanism and freedom from a multitude of political, cultural, social and economic constraints. Although design and planning disciplines have been revising their practices to render the making of cities a more emancipatory process, the city as an artefact was to a great extent dominated by the Eurocentric narrative of modernism. Following the critique of the modernist approaches to conceiving, perceiving and living urban spaces raised in urban theory, the turn of the century witnessed the final rejection of the grand narrative of modernism as a mere relic of Western imperialism. This paradigm shift has freed up space for a plurality of responses carved along different strands aiming at the production of places of emancipation, which equally rely upon theoretical and practice-based approaches to the making of cities. This lecture (1) introduces the concept of the “post-political” thought in urban theory, (2) links it back to earlier thinkers who have stressed the importance of dissent and agonism to constantly revive democracies in practice and (3) outlines current strands in planning theory that work in the line of these new positions in contemporary social theory. The lecture will give insights into a new book project that has been initiated through new innovative forms of transdisciplinary teaching the practice and theory of urban emancipation at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space in 2014.

1. The Post-Political and its Discontents
Wilson and Swyngedouw (2015) Seeds of dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political. In: Wilson and Swyngedouw (eds) The Post-Political and its Discontents. Edinburgh. Edinburg University Press. Pp.1-24.
2. Politics of dissent
Mouffe, Chantal (2013): Agonistics. Thinking the world politically. London: Verso. Pp. 1-18.
3. Agonistic/antagonistic planning
Hillier, Jean (2002) Direct action and agonism in democratic planning practice. In: Philip Allmendinger and Mark Tewdwr-Jones (eds), Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory. London: Routledge. Pp. 110-135.

“Lecture Summary and Repetition” (Sybille Frank und Sabine Knierbein)

This lecture unit will summarize the topics and themes discussed. Questions of students relating to the different lecture slots are welcome.

iii. Assessment of students’ performance

Participants of the lecture are asked to individually attend the lecture units and read the related texts. They are moreover required to either prepare an individual scientific essay of 10 pages or to take an oral group exam of 60 minutes (which will be marked individually).

The scientific essay should draw connections between one input offered by Sybille Frank (including texts) and one input offered by Sabine Knierbein (including texts) and develop cross-disciplinary perspectives on at least one of the current challenges for European cities, in particular with a focus on urban cultures and public spaces. Submission deadline for the individual essays is 30th June 2016. The oral exam will be offered during the 3rd teaching block (23rd and 24th June 2016).

For the oral group exam students are required to revise all lectures and the assigned literature.

iv. Further information

This lecture “Strategies and Interventions of the Production of Space: The European City: A Conceptual Framework in Crisis” is part of the module 11 “Urban culture, public space” (consisting of three courses, VO 280.038, SE 280.394 and UE 280.393) which is offered during three five days intensive teaching blocks (ITB) by the Interdisiciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR). Module 11 compiles a set of integrated courses dealing with “Urban culture and public space” at the interface of the fields of urban studies and urban design/urban planning. In 2016, the main focus will be on “Urban culture, public space and the present: Urban solidarity and European crisis”.

The courses mainly address master students (late Bachelor or early PhD), especially from spatial planning and architecture are invited to take part. Yet we explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in related disciplines, such as urban studies, urban design, geography, sociology, landscape architecture, cultural studies, … as well as ‘Mitbeleger’.  The course language is English. We support students’ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats, and encourage you to bring in and develop your own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (info@skuor.tuwien.ac.at).

Students interested in this course are highly recommended to take part in the seminar (Tiss no 280.393) and the exercise (Tiss no 280.393).
To take part in all three courses of the module 11 please register for module 11 until 3rd of March 2016 (14.00 pm) via TISS registration for the course, VO 280.038. Further course registration will be carried out directly at the kick-off meeting on 14th of March 2016, 09:00 in Karlsgasse 13, Seminar room 1.

Dates of the Module 11
The main body of teaching will be delivered during three intensive teaching blocks (ITB):
ITB 1.  14 to 18 Mar 2016
ITB 2.  9 to 13 May 2016
ITB 3.  20 to 24 Jun 2016


The elaboration of the course outline has been supported by Angelika Gabauer who has offered a political science perspective into issues of recent planning for public spaces and urban cultures.