We are happy to provide some first glimpse and insights of DAY I of our workshop “Beyond Urban Transformation”.

Prof. Alexa Färber (Institute for European Ethnology, University of Vienna, Austria), Prof. Ignacio Farías (Professor for Urban Anthropology, Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt-University of Berlin), Prof. Talja Blokland (Professor for Regional and Urban Sociology, Humboldt-University of Berlin), Prof. Tasleem Shakur (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Edge Hill University, Lancashire UK) provided theoretical and conceptual thoughts and ideas on how to grab complexities and processes of “urban transformation”, thinking about the city as promise and promissory assemblage, about the parts and traps in participatory urbanism, about community as practice and theorizing the dynamics of cities as well as paradigms shifts in global urban transformation.

More to come soon!

Bildschirmfoto 2018-09-07 um 09.25.01



first row – (1) Prof. Alexa Färber, (2) Prof. Talja Blokland, (3) Prof. Ignacio Farías
second row – (1) AbdouMaliq Simone, (2) Prof. Talja Blokland & AbdouMaliq Simone, (3) Group of Participants @ Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies, 2018

KICKOFF Keynote: The city as promissory assemblage (Prof. Alexa Färber)


Parts and traps in participatory urbanism (Prof. Ignacio Farías)

Always transformation: Theorizing the dynamic city and challenges for ethnography (Prof. Talja Blokland)

Urban space is one of the central research fields of urban anthropology, which understands cities as social sites where cultural and political developments are initiated and condensed. Nevertheless, urban anthropology depends on the views of other disciplines like historical and social sciences, architecture, geography, city planning, urban design and arts. All these disciplines are concerned with processes of urban transformation – from different perspectives, mindsets, and theoretical frameworks. To work with people from different disciplines is imperative in order to locate gaps in our own urban research perspectives and to develop new modes of transdisciplinary discourse.

Urban transformation focuses primarily on the process of gentrification, urban renewal, neo-liberalization of the city, and housing (Smith 1996, Brenner 2002, Larsen 2016). Understanding these processes requires on-the-ground research on the everyday struggles and resilience of urban actors who are constantly adapting to emergent twenty-first century challenges, such as the negotiation of rights to the city, the role and changing patterns of public space, and new spatial practices in the rise of digitalization (Lefebvre 1968, Harvey 2012, Habermas 1989, Miller et al. 2016, and Lim 2002).

Urban societies are ordered hierarchically through a set of implicit rules and conventions, which determine the distribution of roles in a community and the forms of exclusion that operate within it. As ethnographers, geographers, artists and urban planners, our research models must navigate multiple scales of analysis in cities while committing to the fine-grained analysis of everyday life experiences of urban transformations, which reflect the larger scale processes of urban change. Under the broad theme of urban transformation, our workshop will focus on the two sub-themes of urban resilience and urban commons.

Posted by:Dr. Carolin Genz

Dr. Carolin Genz is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Department for Cultural and Social Geography at the Humboldt-University and Research Associate in the Collaborative Research Centre 1265 "Re-Figuration of Spaces" in the project area "Knowledge of Space" at Technische Universtität Berlin. As an urban anthropologist in the intersecting fields of social anthropology, human geography, and urban studies, she constantly develops ethnographic methods to capture the socio-spatial constitution of urban practices. Her research focuses on spatial theory and practices of resistance, housing, and gender.

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