New order, or the direction of urban planning after 1989?
WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION 3
Can spatial planning influence the economic growth of a city so that its development is sustainable? What kind of tactics should be used, which tools and techniques? Is the economic growth, that has been taking place since 1989, a great enough phenomenon to require an amendment to the Constitution enforcing the provisions of sustainability? Who bears the actual costs of the development and what sort of appraisal should be applied?
After 1989, the neoliberal tendencies started to dominate in spatial planning methods and the role of the public authorities in the field of urban development has been gradually limited. At the same time, there is a general belief that someone is watching over social (schools, kindergartens, public spaces) and technical (roads, installations) infrastructure. During this session we will demonstrate how redevelopment initiatives affect the spatial order of the metropolis and we will address the issue of distribution of responsibilities with regards to its shape.
The Antinomies of the Post-Political and Post-Democratic City
The polis is dead. Long live the creative city! Cities as spectacular phantasmagoric assemblages and heterogeneously disjointed collages of amalgamated techno-natural configurations constitute, according to authors as diverse as Saskia Sassen, David Harvey, Manuel Castells, Maria Kaika, Rem Koolhaas, or Richard Florida, the condensed materialization of a global cosmopolitan order, the apex of the 21st century condition, and the hubs of rhizomatic worldwide networks. They have become the diverse, heterotopian, and ‘glocal’ sites that harbour all manner of possibilities and emancipatory promises, while expressing often the most radical and oppressive forms of exclusion and uneven development. This century will be, much more than the previous one, the century of the city; cities that no longer have an outside, a border. No matter how far one travels, as in Calvino’s Penthesilea, one will never be able to leave the city. This figure of the Post-Political City will be leitmotiv of this contribution. Taking our cue from Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek, Chantal Mouffe, Mustafa Dikeç, Alain Badiou and assorted other critics of the cynical radicalism that has rendered critical theory and radical political praxis impotent and infertile in the face of the rapidly de-politicising gestures that pass for urban policy and politics in the contemporary neo-liberalising police order, we shall attempt to re-centre the political in contemporary debates on the urban.
“Paris of the East” – Urban Theory of the West: Cities and Theories after the End of the East/West Divide
East European cities have occupied an uneasy place in urban theory. Some more than others looked as secondhand Parisian cityscapes of sorts, with less glamour, less extravagance, poorer and worse kept. The theorization of this ‘secondhandedness’ has never been simple and was only confounded by the coming and going of socialism. State socialism gave a temporary way out of the problem of dealing with slightly off-western urban development: all difference came to be swept under the difference state socialism made. The temptation has uncannily survived in the category of ‘post-socialist’ I will speculate about the possibility of better theories and argue that a non-parochial view of post-socialist urbanity can be imagined only as part of a renewed critical (urban) theory.
Towards transcendental urbanism? The past and the future of the socialist city
The most commonplace argument used to debunk state socialism is that it was a quasi-religious system. I will argue that this was a positive rather than a negative development and embark on a post-secular reading of the socialist city. By building on the work of Alexei Yurchak and Stephen Kotkin, I will demonstrate how it tackled what Richard Sennett diagnosed as the main predicament of Western urban life: the incursion of personality into the public realm. Because there is an agreement today that the Western-style urbanism is dead, and most commentators look at the cities of the global South as the lodestar of progressive change, I will argue that the urban heritage of Eastern Europe is still valuable for envisioning a form of urban life beyond capitalism.