Accepted Paper:

New cooperation between social psychiatry and the housing industry in Berlin: staging para-sites from within an urban assembly.  


Patrick Bieler (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

New forms of cooperation between social psychiatric care and the housing industry in Berlin emerge. The paper will zoom in and out of this mode of urban cosmopolitics and reflect on the implications for ethnographic knowledge production that stem from staging para-sites from within these assemblies.

Paper long abstract:

In my presentation I will draw on my ongoing research on the relation of mental health, urban environments and psychiatric care infrastructures in Berlin. I conducted participant observation in different sites of bureaucratic governance of the social psychiatric care system and in a lobbying project for the inclusion of people with mental illness with a specific focus on housing issues.

Adequate housing is one of the basic prerequisites for social psychiatric outpatient care. To this end, Berlin's care facilities rent flats that they sublet to their clients. Exploding rent prizes and gentrification processes, however, pose several problems for the local social psychiatric care system: clients that could live independently remain within the care infrastructure because finding housing is nearly impossible; the number of homeless people striving for psychiatric health care services increases; rental contracts are terminated.

It is this situation of crisis that is generative of the emergence of new cooperation between previously unrelated actors: social psychiatric actors approach the housing industry and local politicians in order to acquire flats - via individual informal discussions, symposia, committee meetings and devices.

My argument will address two methodological issues: Firstly, I will try to conceptualize these assemblies as mode(s) of urban cosmopolitics (Blok and Farías 2016) by partially applying the research strategy of zooming in and out (Nicolini 2009). Secondly, I will describe the practical staging of para-sites (Marcus and Holmes 2005, 2008) from a participant observant position taking part in these assemblies and discuss its implications for ethnographic knowledge production.

Panel C04
Productive frictions: co-laboration and confluence in the work of new alliances