Interview with Stefan Kipfer – Gramsci as Geographer

Interview with Stefan Kipfer – Gramsci as Geographer in Historical Materialism (open access). Some interesting discussion of his relation to Lefebvre, among other themes. A French version of this interview was originally published at http://revueperiode.net/gramsci-geographe-entretien-avec-stefan-kipfer/ Your research interests include a recurrent focus on space, specifically urban questions as well as the spatial organization of relations of […]

via Interview with Stefan Kipfer – Gramsci as Geographer — Progressive Geographies

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New Militant Cinema | Giancarlo Buonfino’s Totem

In 1968 Giancarlo Buonfino and others created the ‘New Militant Cinema’ Collective in the wake of the explosion of workers’ and students’ struggles in Italy. As far as I know the only film Buonfino and the collective made was Totem (1969) — the original version, embedded below, is available on YouTube. It took a whole year to produce it and it was subsequently screened in informal venues in neighborhoods, squats, factories and universities.

Buonfino was one of the most salient designers working within Italian leftist movements and the area of Autonomy in the late 1960s and 1970s – his drawings and writings on cultural politics and historical avant-garde were published in journals such as Quaderni Piacentini or Primo Maggio. Amongst other books, he was the author of La politica culturale operaia. Da Marx e Lassalle alla rivoluzione di Novembre, 1859/1919 (Working-class Cultural Politics: From Marx and Lassalle to the November Revolution, Feltrinelli, 1975) and Avanguardia, Dada, Weimar (Avant-garde, Dada, Weimar, Arsenale, 1978), with Massimo Cacciari and Francesco Dal Co. Buonfino killed himself in 1980 amidst the wave of repression during the period of ‘riflusso nel privato’ that followed the events of 1977. More information about his work and life can be found in this tribute webpage created by his brother, photographer Walter Buonfino.

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Back to the blog

It has been almost six months since the last post on this blog  —  I had not realized that it had reached over 1,000 followers during this period, thank you all for reading! Besides the typically frantic teaching and management schedules here in Madrid, this absence is due to additional tasks related to my appointment as general research coordinator in the School of Architecture and, especially, the time dedicated to the parenting of my three-year-old, which is of course the most fascinating investigation and source of discovery on a daily basis. Needless to say there are immediate, affective reasons to embrace a ‘radical care’ praxis at this stage, but our current arrangements at home are also an opportunity to put to work many things learned through a long theoretical engagement with the political implications of autonomous, non-commodified forms of (social) reproduction. It is a real joy, but this means that for now all the remaining available time is devoted to deal with various writing projects, hence the silence on this site.

I keep working on a book that explores the historical development of spatial planning as a mechanism of dispossession and destruction of the commons, prolonging and expanding previous contributions on this subject. I spent a good part of 2017 writing a chapter on the Weimar Republic, and during this year I am focusing on Italy during the 1970s and 1980s, trying to read the development of post-crisis urban-regional models as a response to forms of spatial appropriation of Autonomia groups in Bologna, Milano, Torino and Roma in the preceding years. Although my ultimate target is planning, I have spent the last couple months reading fascinating accounts of struggle in primary sources such as Lotta Continua, Primo Maggio, Quaderni Piacentini, Rosso, or I Volsci, amongst others. These are rich and captivating archival resources, many of them available online, which I recommend to those interested in modern forms of urban communism and anarchism. Besides a relatively large general historical literature on the period, there are also some extremely useful brief syntheses of Autonomia from a spatial perspective, for instance by Alexander Vasudevan in a chapter of his The Autonomous City and by Neil Gray in a recent article in Antipode, or, from a design perspective, by Pier Vittorio Aureli in his The Project of Autonomy. My aim at this point is to develop a more detailed spatial examination, focusing on specific episodes of struggle in different neighborhoods and places in major cities.

For a while now this larger project has coexisted with commissioned pieces for various books and journals. The first to appear will probably be a chapter about the spatial production of community under Fascism for the book Powers of the City: New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe since 1500, edited by Simon Gunn and Tom Hulme for the Routledge series Advances in Urban History (the first volume, Cities and Creativity from the Renaissance to the Present, is already available). Also to be published this year, I prepared a very speculative piece for an upcoming issue of the Harvard GSD journal New Geographies — edited by Urban Theory Lab’s members Michael Chieffalo and Julia Smachylo — using a planning historical perspective to reflect on the articulation of space, time and value through the concept of fallowness. In a more orthodox design history approach, I revisited the work of German planner Martin Wagner and its relation with community and productive landscape designs by Leberecht Migge, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Hans Bernhard Reichow in another book chapter for a volume edited by Jeanne Haffner under the working title The Environment Built: Dwelling as Landscape in Twentieth-Century Urbanism, forthcoming in 2019. I also wrote two pieces in Spanish about the role of Henri Lefebvre and Manuel Castells in Madrid’s 1985 City Plan, a sort of landmark for Spanish progressive planners which will finally receive deserved scholarly attention through a massive book coordinated by Carlos Sambricio and Paloma Ramos. Finally, I am currently preparing a short intervention for a review symposium in European Urban and Regional Studies, discussing Costis Hadjimichalis’ fundamental Crisis Spaces: Structures, Struggles and Solidarity in Southern Europe (Routledge, 2018). Besides these academic writing tasks, I recently contributed an expert report to an interesting discussion about the future of Pamplona’s ‘Monument to the Fallen’, a controversial monument to the Fascist victims of the Spanish Civil War, built between the 1940s and 1950 — the second largest of its kind according to some sources — and currently in the spotlight of progressive parties in the city and associations of so-called ‘historical memory’, i.e. demanding reparations and restorative justice related to the Spanish dictatorial regime.

So overall it has been a busy period, and the trend is likely to continue in the near future, but I will try to write here — or at least share these and other materials — more often.

Posted in Commons, Comunes, Crisis, Dictatorships and Urbanism, Diseño urbano, Dispossession, Espacio y política, Historia del urbanismo, Landscape architecture, Landscape theory, Martin Wagner, Mis publicaciones, My research, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Planning history, Political economy, Politics, Politics and space, Social History of Planning, Teoría urbana, Urban design, Urban Theory Lab | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Martin Wagner in America’ | Out in Planning Perspectives

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The final version of my article ‘Martin Wagner in America: planning and the political economy of capitalist urbanization’ has been published in Planning Perspectives (this alternative link provides temporary free access to the full paper). This is part of the research I did last year with Wagner’s personal archive at Harvard Frances Loeb Library, which was only partially known until now. For those who are not familiar with his career, Wagner coordinated Berlin’s planning office in the second half of the Weimar Republic, at a time when German municipalities and particularly the capital were creating a nascent form of social state which gave designers a new role in the imagination of urban order. During the 1920s more generally he developed an intense cooperation with trade unions, became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and shaped cooperatives and public interest building companies that remain some of the largest real estate operators in Germany today. So goes the myth—but there was a dark side to all this, which is easier to understand once Wagner leaves the country after Nazi takeover.

Research on Wagner’s activity in exile was fragmentary and focused mainly on his building prototypes, which were actually anecdotal in comparison to his work in the field of planning theory. As I mentioned in a previous post, what I found in Cambridge was not only shocking —painfully shocking, I should say— but also extremely illuminating on both the real nature of social policy in Weimar Berlin and postwar urban renewal and suburban sprawl in the US. I hope this article will contribute to a better appreciation of the shades and shadows of ‘progressive’ (Fordist, social democratic) urbanism and the marriage of avant-garde design and welfare policy.

Posted in Architectural design, Architecture, Martin Wagner, Planning history, Political economy, Political urbanism, Politics, Space and politics, Urban design, Urban politics, Urban studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jean-Pierre Garnier en Madrid y Valladolid

El sociólogo Jean-Pierre Garnier nos visita una vez más para hablar sobre urbanismo, conflicto social y lucha de clases.

El jueves estará en en la sede de FUHEM en Madrid, en un debate titulado ‘Gentrificación: un concepto inadecuado’ (invitación aquí, habrá retransmisión en streaming), con motivo de la publicación del último número de la revista Papeles, que incluye un artículo de Garnier con ese título. Un grupo de amigos aprovecharemos además su visita para hacer un intercambio con estudiantes y activistas.

El viernes estará en Valladolid en el marco del ciclo organizado por el Instituto Universitario de Urbanística, presentando Jean-Pierre Garnier, un sociólogo urbano a contracorriente, el libro sobre su trayectoria que Rosa Tello preparó para la colección Espacios Críticos. Como pueden ver en el póster abajo, el título de la sesión describe bien el carácter de Garnier.

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Para ir calentando motores les dejo el enlace a un vídeo ya algo añejo (¡hace 17 años!) de una ponencia suya en la Universidad de Lyon con un título, de nuevo, claro y directo: ‘Urbanizar para despolitizar’ (en francés).

Posted in Conflicto urbano, Convocatorias, Crisis, Derecho a la ciudad, Jean-Pierre Garnier, Justicia espacial, Marxism, Marxismo, Sin categoría | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Áreas urbanas y escasez de recursos

El grupo Re-Hab celebra mañana 7 de junio un nuevo encuentro para presentar y discutir los resultados de su investigación, en torno al tema ‘Áreas urbanas y escasez de recursos’. Les dejo el programa del evento.

ProgramaSeminarioRecursos

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Imperialism: Is it a Relevant Concept?

David Harvey, Duncan Foley, Nancy Fraser and Prabhat Patnaik discussed the contemporary relevance of the concept of ‘Imperialism’ in an event held at the The New School’s Center for Public Scholarship a couple of weeks ago:

In the age of financial globalization of the last few decades, we have seen elites in many countries of the South which were erstwhile colonies join the elites of Europe, North America… and it would seem, therefore, that now there is just the domination of global elites over the global working poor. Moreover the populations of many countries of the North are also suffering from chronic unemployment and inequality is acutely present in these countries as well. Does this mean that the very concept of imperialism is now an irrelevant category of analysis?

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