Contested cities and crisis regimes: Practices, discourses and representations of housing (struggles) / Stream E – Contested cities

Organizer: Stavros Stavrides (National Technical University of Athens, GR); Penny Koutrolikou (National Technical University of Athens, GR); Michael Janoschka (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, ES).


In contemporary societies crises and structural changes are mostly perceived as centred around economy and production. Cities become both the terrain where crises are visibly felt and central points in the processes of their emergence. Cities are ‘in crisis’ both because policies of structural changes explicitly attempt to reshape them and because they become contested terrains in which socio-political antagonisms are emphatically spatialised.

Increased insecurity and precariousness is intrinsically connected to a paradigm shift; a shift towards what Sassen has described as “the logic of expulsion” where the “excessive humanity” is being expulsed rather than integrated to society as was the case in most of welfare-state oriented societies. Conversely, a plethora of struggles and claims emerge; struggles that contest both the ‘management’ of the crisis and claim a different future.

In this context, housing becomes a pivotal point; as a consequence of crisis, housing is being redefined and secured as an important social good, while at the same time it is being further integrated into regimes of liberal market provision, dispossession and stealth. The social meaning of housing becomes a stake especially because most of the existing models of social organization (liberal, neoliberal, welfare, socialist) have been in a ‘crisis’. Thus, housing entails an array of often-conflicting representations (themselves embodying ideologies and perceptions of what an ideal city is): housing as property/ownership, as product, as right, as public good. Public discourses often complement such representations, debating what public means and who it includes. Moreover, housing is central in regards to practices contesting displacement and expulsion/exclusion. In capital-rich cities, gentrification and increased provision of luxury housing pushes poorer and/or middle income residents further away from “revamped” city-centres. Contrastingly, in cities in ‘crises’ or ‘austerity’, housing gets targeted, resulting in increased debt, evictions (even homelessness) and asset consolidation. And displacement (of people and identities) becomes a key mechanism to reshape the social composition of the city.

This session invites papers that discuss the multiple aspects of housing and housing struggles in the context of multifaceted crises along these three (and interrelated) axes: representations, discourses and practices. In an effort to explore glimpses of contemporary views about an ideal city we need to study the ways housing practices and values are problematized today both by decision and policy makers and by people in struggle. In, against, and beyond the current urban crises.

E8.1 Contested cities and crisis regimes

Chairs: Stavros Stavrides (National Technical University of Athens) Penny Koutrolikou (National Technical University of Athens) Michael Janoschka (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)


Lucia Capanema Alvares
New discourses and old practices in the housing market: creating an ‘ideal’ port area through forced evictions in Rio de Janeiro

Angeliki Paidakaki
Disaster resilience towards which direction(s)? Competing reconstruction discourses in post-Katrina New Orleans

Desiree Fields
Distressed-as-Desirable Assets: Post-Crisis Representations of Housing

Oded Haas
Housing as strategy: whose ideal city?

Didi K Han
Overcoming Privatized Housing in a Neoliberal City in South Korea

Distributed papers

Sebastián Ibarra González
From dispossession to political action: discourses and practices in housing struggles in the neoliberal Chile

Lynda Cheshire
Chucking in, Cleaning up and Making Better: The Contested Meaning of Social Housing Renewal

John Schlichtman
Mobilizing the middle class towards a more ideal city

E8.2 Contested cities and crisis regimes

Chairs: Stavros Stavrides (National Technical University of Athens) Penny Koutrolikou (National Technical University of Athens) Michael Janoschka (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)


Julia Hartmann
Right to housing, right to property: housing activism in Cairo

Claudio Pulgar Pinaud
Resistance and Resilience in the Neo-Liberal City. Social and Seismic Movements in Chile after Disasters

Zhao Zhang
A “Crisis of Crisis-Management”? China’s Neoliberal Housing Reform and the Role of the Central State

Mara Verlic
Emerging housing commons: Vienna’s housing crises then and now

Distributed papers

Paul Watt
The Focus E15 Campaign: a Nomadic War Machine in London’s Housing Crisis

Nico Bazzoli
The conflict about the social meaning of housing in a neighbourhood subject to gentrification

Miguez Martínez
The hybrid Autonomy of struggles within the 15M movement in Spain


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