Congress 2011/Theses to the Congress

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Nuclear fusion in image-city: The crises of the neoliberal city

Let us begin with the joyless one. And there is more than enough of it: The current urban development model tightens social fissions and segregations, produces spaces of exclusion, doorman-houses, creative quarters, business improvement districts, residence obligation, free trade areas, social hot spots, contaminated badlands. Let us start at the meta level to have a closer look at the city to analyse the interrelation between the global and the regional, between the inner and the outer urban and let us dissect the ideological layers of the neoliberal city.

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Hostile embracement: participation & misappropriation

The increasing protests against neoliberal politics of space are answered with elaborated instruments by those in power: offers of cooperation set in frameworks defined from above here, reprisals there. Multicultural imagery in an image-pamphlet, controlling of migrants in the subway. Interactive art in Wilhelmsburg, obstruction of public decisions on the city level. Resistance itself is being depoliticised, culturalised, personalised and defused. How can we ward this participatory cuddle-attack off? Are there any ways out of the trap of misappropriation?

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PPP – pop, production, precarisation

Towards the end of the Industrial Age, cities regain more meaning as sites of production – this time of meanings, images, networks, attitudes, subcultures, which constitute the core of the new capitalistic creation of value. The "subjective factor", once an objection shaped by feminists against the functional arrangement of life and politics in the factory society, serves as the creative resource of the precarised "enterpreneurial self". The latter relies on an open quarter with good networks – gentrified areas which are counterparted by crashing areas on the edge of the city – and even more, on an exploiting production of goods in the maquiladoras of the global South. Because their heavy labour, which is vital for everyday commodities at cutthroat prices, is the dark secret of the "creative class".

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Tools, Tricks, Dances: Vive la Difference!

Cities are a condensation of differences. Sounds trivial, but marks a monumental break with political agendas which insist on homogeneity, fixed identities and clean classifications. The anti-gentrification debate is often criticized for an assumed xenophobia. But right-to-the-city-activists postulate the right for difference, for deviance from behavioral and gender norms, for the right of unresisted migration. How should an emancipatory practice look like, that accepts these differences, and that makes suppressed voices hearable – instead of excluding them? We observe multiple forms of exchange and changed manners of speaking at the latest captured places by right-to-the-city-activists. We are interested in practices, tools, tricks, spaces of collective self-organization, which leave the path of standardized forms of "plenum" or "demonstration". How can we use different languages and forms of knowledge to learn from each other?

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Access All Areas! Fights for the right to the city

Quite recently the resistance against post-fordist terrains seemed to get lost. But suddenly arised spatialized social fights at the horizon and start to get linked. Is this the outline of a new social movement? When social questions are asked as spatial questions, they open up new possibilities for collective action: occupied spaces get linked with resistance against mega development projects, against gentrification, against privatization of public services. Artist collectives, small enterprisers looking for work space, and unsatisfied tenants become companions. Let's combine the appropriation of spaces and resources with the defense of inner-city neighborhoods against a policy of demolition! Let's combine the initiatives of homeless persons with the resistance against evictions! Let's strengthen tenant initiatives with vacancy campaigns! Let's connect the opponents of environmental degradation with the fights of immigrants for their right of residence! Let's broaden the space of action for civil disobedience by artificial and militant, clever and symbolic, virtual and direct actions!

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Utopian spill-over: A city for all

Finally our most loved category: utopia! Henri Lefebvre writes "there is no thinking without utopia, without exploring the possible, the elsewhere." And because the impossible-possible shows through at some places, we want to encourage questions like: which strategies exist against the current social injustice? How can we take our right to the city? Can these fights be linked between cities, across countries and continents to create an effective network? How should transnational networks look like, when they are organized non-hierarchical and bottom up? How can urban resources and commons distributed justly and sustainable? What happens, if the wishes leave the houses and walk the street...?

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