- Rights to the Neeoliberal City: The Case of Urban Land Squatting in 'Creative' Berlin
- Territory, Politics, Governance
- Volume | Issue number
- 2 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This paper asserts that activists can carve out a political space between cooptation and autonomy in neoliberalizing cities but that strategic options vary according to the micro-political spaces activists operate in. This assertion is examined through an in-depth ethnographic study of two trailer encampments in Berlin. These trailer encampments occupy previously abandoned wastelands in Berlin and have strong ties to the squatter movement. The dominant discourse of the ‘creative city’ has served as both constraint and opportunity. Activist-residents in both camps are conscious that their abilities to maintain their communities require them to present themselves in a way that coincides with the dominant ‘creativity’ discourse of the city. Both have fashioned their own discursive frames and introduced events that demonstrate how they contribute to making Berlin dynamic and creative. However, the encampment in the conservative district faces more severe constraints than the one in the left-wing district. These constraints have favored a strategy that stresses identification with the governing urban norms. We conclude by arguing that using ‘creativity’ as a strategic frame may provide rights for some, but also reproduces a neoliberal model of citizenship that rights need to be earned by demonstrating deservingness in the city. Those lacking cultural resources have greater difficulty asserting their deservingness of rights and therefore face greater risk of marginalization and displacement.
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