For the RGS-IBG Conference
Social Struggles and Revolts in the Mediterranean Cities in the era of crisis: urban commons and the right to the city
Charalampos Tsavdaroglou, PhD Researcher, School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, email@example.com
Vasiliki Makrygianni, PhD Researcher, School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, firstname.lastname@example.org
The last years the discussion on urban commons and the right to the city is becoming increasingly popular among radical urban scholars and urban social movements. In most cases the discussion on urban commons revolves mainly around Marxist geographers’ approaches that focus on the “accumulation by dispossession” and conceptualize commons as a new version of the “right to the city”. However, during the current urban struggles and revolts, the rebels not only claim the urban spaces from the sovereign power but they tend to occupy and transform it into emancipatory spaces of commoning. In parallel, neoliberal urban policies tend to appropriate and distort urban commons, in order to improve the cities’ competitiveness. Consequently the discourse on “the right to the city” and on “common space” has to be reconsidered, as the latter is becoming the hybrid arena of cultural, political and social urban conflicts.
This panel focuses on the cities of North and South Mediterranean. On the one hand these cities are figured as exemplary places for neoliberal urban policies. Thus, they aspire to become “global”, “entrepeneurial”, “resilient” or “creative” as well as they are figured as exemplary places for neoliberal urban policies, which include, among others, gentrification, forced evictions, gigantic projects and city branding policies. On the other, these cities constitute epicenters of riots and rebels. Cases like those of the “Arab spring” (2011) in North Africa and Middle East, the “Indignados movement” in Spain (2011), the “December 2008 uprising” and the “aganaktismenoi movement” in Greece (2011), the “Gezi Park uprising” in Turkey (2013) and the anti-government social protests in Balkan countries (2013-2014) push the boundaries over the symbolic, material and social meanings of the common space and the right to the city.
In this direction, the panel welcomes proposals including among others:
- a) Dialectic, decolonial and intersectional perspectives on the right to the city and the common space;
- b) Comparative studies on urban social movements in the Mediterranean cities;
- c) Approaches that focus on the contemporary socioeconomic and political crisis in the different sites of the Mediterranean.