Podcast "Urban Political"

The Podcast on Urban Theory, Research, and Activism

The {Urban Political} delves into contemporary urban issues with activists, scholars and policy-makers from around the world. Providing informed views, state of the art knowledge and unusual insights, the podcast aims to advance our understanding of urban environments and how we might make them more just and democratic. The {Urban Political} provides a new forum for reflection on bridging urban activism and scholarship, where regular features offer snapshots of pressing issues and new publications, allowing multiple voices of scholars and activists to enter into a transnational debate directly.


Rent Strike Series Episode 2

The second in an ongoing series hosted by Mathilde Lind Gustavussen.

This is episode two of the Rent Strike Series, focusing on the Veritas Tenants Association’s ongoing multibuilding rent strike in San Francisco to demand a say in the terms of sale of their buildings. On August 30, corporate landlord Ballast Investments won the auction for Veritas Investments’ delinquent debt and will take over 75 Veritas-owned buildings. And on September 1 the strike expanded. In this episode, we get an update on these developments and the implications for the strike from Brad Hirn, lead organizer with the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.

Erschienen: 21.09.2023
Dauer: 00:24:37

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Book Review Roundtable: Against the Commons: A Radical History of Urban Planning

Against the Commons underscores how urbanization shapes the social fabric of places and territories, lending awareness to the impact of planning and design initiatives on working-class communities and popular strata. Projecting history into the future, it outlines an alternative vision for a postcapitalist urban planning, one in which the structure of collective spaces is defined by the people who inhabit them.

Erschienen: 01.09.2023
Dauer: 01:10:26

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Rent Strike Series Episode 1

the Veritas Tenants Association’s (VTA) in San Francisco

The first in an ongoing series hosted by Mathilde Gustavussen

Erschienen: 25.08.2023
Dauer: 00:48:12

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Book Review Roundtable: How Cities Can Transform Democracy

Ross Beveridge, Philippe Koch and their critics

We live in an urban age. It is well known that urbanization is changing landscapes, built environments, social infrastructures and everyday lives across the globe. But urbanization is also changing the ways we understand and practise politics. What implications does this have for democracy? This incisive book argues that urbanization undermines the established certainties of nation-state politics and calls for a profound rethinking of democracy. A novel way of seeing democracy like a city is presented, shifting scholarly and activist perspectives from institutions to practices, from jurisdictional scales to spaces of urban collective life, and from fixed communities to emergent political subjects. Through a discussion of examples from around the world, the book shows that distinctly urban forms of collective self rule are already apparent. The authors reclaim the ‘city’ as a democratic idea in a context of urbanization, seeing it as instrumental to relocating democracy in the everyday lives of urbanites. Original and hopeful, How Cities Can Transform Democracy compels the reader to abandon conventional understandings of democracy and embrace new vocabularies and practices of democratic action in the struggles for our urban future.

Erschienen: 01.08.2023
Dauer: 00:59:30

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Book Review Roundtable: Migrants and Machine Politics

Adam Auerbach and his critics

As the Global South rapidly urbanizes, millions of people have migrated from the countryside to urban slums, which now house one billion people worldwide. The transformative potential of urbanization hinges on whether and how poor migrants are integrated into city politics. Popular and scholarly accounts paint migrant slums as exhausted by dispossession, subdued by local dons, bought off by wily politicians, or polarized by ethnic appeals. Migrants and Machine Politics shows how slum residents in India routinely defy such portrayals, actively constructing and wielding political machine networks to demand important, albeit imperfect, representation and responsiveness within the country’s expanding cities. Drawing on years of pioneering fieldwork in India’s slums, including ethnographic observation, interviews, surveys, and experiments, Adam Michael Auerbach and Tariq Thachil reveal how migrants harness forces of political competition—as residents, voters, community leaders, and party workers—to sow unexpected seeds of accountability within city politics. This multifaceted agency provokes new questions about how political networks form during urbanization. In answering these questions, this book overturns longstanding assumptions about how political machines exploit the urban poor to stifle competition, foster ethnic favoritism, and entrench vote buying. By documenting how poor migrants actively shape urban politics in counterintuitive ways, Migrants and Machine Politics sheds new light on the political consequences of urbanization across India and the Global South.

Erschienen: 01.07.2023
Dauer: 01:00:16

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In Conversation with Vera Smirnova (The Urban Lives of Property Series II)

Thinking about Appropriation, Dispossession and Expropriation in Theory and Practice

In this second part of the series Urban Lives of Property, Hanna and Markus talk to Vera Smirnova, a human and political geographer to discuss property and territory from a Russian perspective. Smirnova’s genealogical account moves from the Czarist period to this day, illuminating also the current Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Smirnova offers a tour de force through Russia’s moving history of the last 150 years, addressing practices of serfdom, enclosures in the early 20th century, land collectivization following the Russian revolution and waves of privatization after 1991. Throughout this period the institution of property is shown to be fuzzy, insecure, and informal, a legacy that continues to this day as evidenced in current urban planning legislation and extra-legal practices of land grabbing. Similarly reflecting a pliability for powerful political interests, territory has been historically considered as vast, borderless and expansive. Smirnova identifies three ontologies of territory (commoning, assembling and peopling) that have determined the dynamics of Russian state territorialization as evidenced in the accounts of 19th century geographers and anthropologists whose ideas continue to influence foreign policy today. As decolonial rhetorics have been integrated and instrumentalized for Russia’s geopolitical strategy for the past century, Smirnova “thinks between the posts” – postcolonialism and postsocialism – and considers the role of Russia today in postcolonial discussions. Her reflection on the Russian land commune (obshchina) is a fascinating, as Smirnova discusses the origins of the land comnune, the persistence during feudalism and state-building, its instrumentalization during land collectivization and its ongoing powerful imaginary.

Erschienen: 19.06.2023
Dauer: 01:17:53

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Russian Academia and Urban Activism in Times of War: Insights from St. Petersburg

Conversation with Oleg Pachenkov

Meet urban scholar Oleg Pachenkov who left Russia few weeks after the invasion of Ukraine. Oleg talks about his personal and professional trajectory as a critical scholar bringing him to Berlin. The conversation covers the breakdown of the public sphere within weeks after the war and Oleg's personal confrontation with a repressive system ready to crack down on critical voices. Self-censorship, Aesopian language and the retreat to the private sphere are aspects that now characterize dynamics of discussion in the attempt to cope with the authoritarian reality in the country. Oleg talk to us about the institutionalization of Urban Studies and the discrepancy between those parts who have arranged themselves within the regime, and those that didn't, between those actors who have stayed in the country and those who have fled. We hear Oleg reflect on these divisions and what needs to be learned for the future - for scholars both in Russia as well as beyond.

Erschienen: 22.05.2023
Dauer: 01:51:11

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In Conversation with Nick Blomley (The Urban Lives of Property Series I)

Thinking about Appropriation, Dispossession and Expropriation in Theory and Practice

This podcast series explores the "life of property" in urban theory and practice. In conversations with scholars who have led the way in property debates, it aims is to advance conceptual and theoretical groundwork on this notion that fundamentally shapes everyday urban lives and political discussion about the city. Within the social sciences and critical urban research property has lived a mostly implicit and underexamined life for several decades. Over the last years, it has become more central to conceptual, theoretical, and empirical work. Taking up this (renewed) interest in the concept, the series employs property as an entry point into critical urban debates about appropriation, dispossession and expropriation. The series seeks to situate the notion of property within urban research and to scrutinize power dynamics around property and their impacts on urban trajectories. Moreover we aim to provincialize Eurocentric understandings of property by bringing post-colonial, Indigenous, post-socialist (along with other "more global/Southern") approaches into the conversation. In this first conversation we are joined by Nick Blomley, Professor of Geography at Simon Fraser University (FRSC). His work focuses on legal geography, particularly in relation to property. He is interested in the spatiality of legal practices and relationships, as well as the worldmaking consequences of such legal geographies. His new book, Territory: New Trajectories in Law, was published with Routledge in 2023. Building on Nick Blomley's foundational work, this episodes serves to clarify conceptions of property, related social theories and their trajectories in urban debates. Moreover, we scrutinize contestations of property and delve into questions of territory that are raised in Nick's new book. Podcast Hosts: Hanna Hilbrandt, University of Zurich; Markus Kip, University of Jena Stay tuned for the next conversation in this series with Vera Smirnova, Kansas State University.

Erschienen: 02.04.2023
Dauer: 01:20:04

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Are Community Land Trusts Transformative?

Community land trusts are proliferating across the globe, promoted as a potential solution to the ever-worsening affordable housing crisis. CLTs provide a mechanism for decommodification, collective ownership, and community control; however, those ideals are hard to operationalize, and many CLTs function more as traditional affordable housing providers than as urban commons. This episode discusses the causes of this tension as well as regional differences and issues of funding and scale framed around the question: are CLTs transformative? The moderator of this podcast is Mathilde Lind Gustavussen. She is a PhD candidate in sociology at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on housing, displacement, and tenant activism in Los Angeles. The panel of guests consists of: Nele Aernouts is assistant professor of urban design and planning at the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research interests lie in the planning, spatial design and governance of social and collective housing initiatives, with a specific focus on their effects on the inclusion of disadvantaged or marginalized groups. Theoretically, her work is informed by debates surrounding participatory planning, housing policy, and the commons: https://www.cosmopolis.be/people/nele-aernouts Tarcyla Fidalgo is a lawyer and urban planner. She has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research is focused on land tenure and community development, especially on Community Land Trusts and their potential in the Global South. Currently she coordinates the Favela Community Land Trust project at Catalytic Communities, in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil. Links: Project website: www.termoterritorialcoletivo.org Personal Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarcyla-fidalgo-746b9261/ Olivia R. Williams is a researcher, writer, advocate, and practitioner working for the decommodification of land and housing. She received a PhD in Geography in 2017 from Florida State University with research on community land trusts (CLTs), and began working at Madison Area Community Land Trust in Madison, Wisconsin as the executive director in 2020. She was also part of a research collaboration with MIT CoLab in developing the 2020 report, A Guide to Transformative Land Strategies. She has published in Urban Geography, Antipode, Housing Studies, Local Economy, and Area, among other academic outlets, as well as non-academic outlets like Jacobin, Shelterforce, and the 2020 book of essays on CLTs, On Common Ground.She also has served in board, staff, and volunteer leadership roles at various cooperative land-and-housing organizations such as Madison Community Cooperative, North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), EcoVillagers Alliance, and Riverwest Investment Cooperative. The episode was edited by Ross Beveridge.

Erschienen: 17.03.2023
Dauer: 01:00:09

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On Peripheralisation

A discussion with Shubhra Gururani, Christian Schmid, Michael Lukas, Giulia Torino, Metaxia Markaki, and Faiq Mari

How do “peripheries” form? And how does urbanization generate processes of peripheralization? Today, urban research is increasingly confronted with processes of extended urbanization that unfold far beyond cities and agglomerations: novel patterns of urbanization are crystallizing in agricultural areas and in remote landscapes, challenging inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded and dense settlement type. While certain territories of extended urbanisation experience growth, others are affected by peripheralisation, experiencing deep socio-economic and ecological restructuring, marginalisation and inequality, and the re-articulation of power and privilege. These observations advocate for a radical reconceptualization of the experience of periphery at various spatial scales. In this podcast, we discuss peripheralization not as a static spatial condition, but as a dynamic process that is shaped by uneven urbanization and complex multi-scalar relations, strongly put forward through moments of “crisis”. We debate on perpheralisation processes which manifest in different scales and geographies and discuss both their socioeconomic and ecological implications, as well as the emancipatory potential in ex-centric territories in times of exception. The podcast follows the intense discussions that took place this August in Athens, during the RC21 conference, in the context of Panel 26 entitled ‘Peripheralization. The production of ex-centric places as an ordinary process of extended urbanisation’ conveyed by Christian Schmid and Metaxia Markaki, hosting twenty-six international contributions. Warm thanks and extended credits to all participants of Panel 26.

Erschienen: 09.02.2023
Dauer: 01:36:06

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Podcast "Urban Political"