Transformative urban politics. How can we?

The 25th INURA conference returns to Athens 7 years after it tried to reflect on “Non/De/Re-regulation” and while the city has been at the whirlwind of glocal crises.

Since 2007 the words crisis, debt, austerity, economic depression became commonplace around the world. From 2009 Athens became the prominent association with these notions; notions that have also strong spatial manifestations and implications for the city and those living in it. As a new “guinea pig” Athens became a territory for implementing harsh neoliberal measures under the pretext of the “exceptionality” of the crisis. Since this exception was anything but temporary, these past years reflect a “normalization of exception” in everyday life, in the introduction of urban politics and policies and in the (re)production of urban spaces.

On the other hand, these same years have been marked and – to a great extend shaped – by numerous mobilizations and contestations against the exceptional measures. Moreover, they have been shaped by the voicing of claims “beyond the crisis” and by the emergence of alternative practices wishing to counter the adverse repercussions; practices involving social solidarity networks, alternative economies, barter systems and cooperative initiatives and networks of social support. These mobilizations and alternative practices brought Athens, once again, to the media spotlight and raised questions not only about the potentialities for transforming urban politics but also for establishing transformative urban politics.

The coming to power of a left government brings these questions to the central political arena. Yet, at the same time, and considering the broader geopolitical terrain, this also problematizes the possibilities and limitations of actually implementing transformative urban politics and the implications it may have for grassroots movements.

For these reasons, the focus of this conference is on praxis; claimed, contested, implemented, real-politik, ideal, wishful… On praxis but also on the challenges, limitations and opportunities that arise in this conjuncture for transformative urban politics

The 25th INURA conference will take place in Athens (city part: August 30th – September 2nd) and Rovies, Evia Island (retreat: September 3rd – September 6th). It will start with a brief introduction to the city of Athens and to the specific context. It will be structured around four thematic strands of field trips:

  • Alternatives for urban development
  • City centre: competing imaginaries and everyday lives
  • Social solidarity initiatives
  • What alternatives to neoliberal privatisations and big investments?

International panel discussions will focus on issues such as potentials and limits to the implementation of transformative urban politics, challenging austerity urbanism, claiming and practicing the commons and the right to housing.

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