Accepted paper:

Urban struggles, frontiers of capital, and migration in the current global crisis: a perspective from Berlin


Manuela Bojadzijev (Humboldt University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Different kinds of urban struggles supply important coordinates to read the spatial economy of the global crisis. Can we think of them as interconnected or as resonating and repercussive? What lessons for the conundrums of democracy are there? How does a migrant population figure in this global configuration?

Paper long abstract:

There are struggles in the past cycle of mobilizations that lack the iconic status of Zuccotti Park, Tahir Square, or Gezi. However, they echo the democratic expressions and deliver insights into practices that oppose the enduring crisis of capitalism. My paper will investigate a two-year long public occupation in Berlin, the capital city of a country that is seen as one of the profiteers of the debt and financial crisis. The occupation of a square at the rim of a roundabout in the inner city area has become the hub for organizing of a predominantly migrant tenant's initiative in a privatised social housing estate. Starting from their activities will help me to outline how the dominance of finance in capitalism 'hits the ground' and how frontiers of capital open up new territories to establish conditions for accumulation in our cities. I will also focus on the political technology that is driven by protocols of "social diversity" that arrange the parameters within which the business of privatisation can deal with cultural, religious, social contestations. I will draw on the initiative's mix of practices of collaboration, mobilisation, research, art practice, festive events, demonstrations, appeals, cultural initiatives, on their ability to organise collaborations on a local as well as on a European level. By doing so my paper will examine the factors, such as racism, poverty, the social composition of the activists, political traditions, productions of subjectivity, art practices that help to explain the initiative's articulating towards left without neglecting political complexities in the field.

panel P084
The worldwide urban mobilizations: conundrums of 'democracy', 'the middle class' and 'the people'. Supported by Focaal and the IUAES Commission on Global Transformation and Marxian Anthropology