Bringing Europe down to earth: reconfigurations of politics and development 
Simone Abram (Durham University)
Gisa Weszkalnys (London School of Economics)
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MVB 1.11
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 16:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

What are the understandings and practices of city development? How are current concepts of city, citizen and state, public and private, politics, planning, commerce and welfare related and materialised?

Long Abstract

This workshop's theme is the contemporary reinvention of city spaces and politics, and the implicit social models at play in this process. European cities, old and new, and the relationships between them, have been rethought and re-planned in recent years, after major structural upheavals such as the fall of the Soviet Union and the expansion of the EU. Redevelopment has not been confined to the physical environment and the redistribution of material resources, but has also included a rethinking of local government. The city's physical and political reinvention can thus appear entwined: changes in the built structures of contemporary cities are often considered to be symptomatic of broader structural changes, such as the shifting relationships between citizens and the state, the state and the market, and public and private. A strong European model of participatory democracy has emerged, based on ideal-types of citizen, community, the public and state and other central organising categories. Yet as states apparently become more participative, more of their work and resources are being transferred to the private sector.

In this workshop, we will ask how European these changes are. What are the contemporary conceptualisations of public and private, of space, politics, commerce and welfare? What happens to these concepts, ideas and models of practice as they travel across unlikely borders through EU funding initiatives, inter-regional partnerships and other types of interconnections between cities and states? How does the new politics of the city relate to ideas of nation and state? What is a city in the 21st century and how is it materialised?

Accepted papers: