Burcu Ateş

Doctoral Candidate and Excite Project “Emerging Fields – TU Trialogue on Urban Co-Production“ 

Doctoral Thesis

In search of institutional pedagogies: Urban co-production processes as sites of spatial justice (working title)

Current debates on the social production of space show that as a critical response to neoliberal modes of city-making triggered by political, social, and spatial changes, various initiatives and practitioners from different geographies of the world have engaged their agenda with more democratic and inclusive urban practices. Calling for another possible way of urbanism, these practices have challenged assumptions by prioritising concepts such as social change, agency, commoning, local knowledge, spatial justice, and co-production. It is central to these practices that spatial professional practice has been performed beyond its traditional disciplinary boundaries, where the (social) responsibilities and (social) commitments of architects and urban planners, as well as the issue of authorship, have been questioned.

This project focuses on urban co-production processes, and it is particularly interested in searching and exhibiting the “institutional pedagogies” utilised within co-production. In this project, the idea behind co-production is based on enabling power distribution among different actors of city-making. The project will seek upon pedagogies of urban co-production as processes, creative phenomena and/or meaning-making activities rather than invariant or ossified methods and tools. Following Félix Guattari’s understanding of institutions, a dialectical “institutional” approach will be used. This approach distinguishes the “institution” as links between individuals, groups, and organisations from the “instituted”, covering established or fixed matters. Considering the Marxist roots of institutional pedagogies, which trigger alternative forms of theorising as praxis, the project will also attempt to theorise from the margins. The margins are here understood as sites of marginality and vulnerability where pedagogies of urban co-production have been applied towards caring the Southern ethics of inquiry as well as the feminist perspective to urban studies. Based on this relational approach, this project is an attempt to uncover power relations in urban co-production sites and processes and to map the pedagogical approaches in their endeavours for providing power distribution in co-production. The project also aims at contributing to urban studies by presenting a transdisciplinary analysis of institutional pedagogies which can then be transferred to different sites and geographies of vulnerability and marginalisation. Therefore, the overall aim of the project is to develop a new systematisation along with studied pedagogical approaches. In this direction, the project will adopt a multifaceted methodology following interconnected guiding questions. The question “How architects and urban planners utilise so-called institutional pedagogies in urban co-production processes in changing contexts, formats and networks?” will be accompanied by case studies in Vienna and Berlin. Institutional ethnography will be applied consisting of interviews, observations and documents to map the pedagogical tools and methods as well as actors and institutions through the archaeology of links, relations and networks from a macro to the micro-level of power analysis. The question “How can institutional pedagogies of urban co-production be developed into a new systematisation for (future) professionals, to be an inspiration for developing similar co-production processes in other contexts?” will be approached by creating and implementing learning processes within urban co-production.

After all, it is expected to develop an elaborated analysis of “pedagogies of urban co-production” in exhibiting the motivations, relations and methods behind the urban practices under study. This will also open a theoretical discussion around possibilities of “institutional urbanism” which encourages feminist and Southern ideas in city-making, by putting endeavours of everyday local organisations and practices to the fore.