US/SO 366 - The Politics of Urban Space

Urban space is constantly structured and given meaning by different actors and changing constellations. In Berlin, the collapse of communism, the reunification of the formerly divided city, and the subsequent transformations created a new framework for its economic, social, cultural, political and spatial development. This interdisciplinary course explores the meanings and practices of urban restructuring in contemporary Berlin -- keeping in mind the presences and absences of the German monarchy, the Weimar Republic, the National Socialist dictatorship, and the so-called Cold War division (capitalist West versus socialist East). The aim of the seminar is to figure out who the winners and losers of contemporary developments are and how this is manifested in and reproduced through urban space. If and how people can 'reclaim' urban space(s) will finally also be addressed in this course. Central points of interest will include the conflicts around the 'New Berlin' (renewal of brownfields, memories and public space), gentrification, the potential and threats of Berlin as a 'Creative City', the spatial dimension of social exclusion, as well as the integration of migrants and the perspectives of the 'right-to-the-city-movement'. For highlighting the features of Berlin in a global context, its changing urban landscape will be compared to other metropolises such as Paris, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Warsaw, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. Together with the comparative insights from these cities, the course will contribute to students' understanding of the complexity of urban development at the beginning of the 21st century.

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Urban Studies

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