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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie

Sommersemester 15

Sommersemester 2015 - Programm des Think & Drinks




Montag, 13.04.2015

Dr. Ousmane Dembélé, University of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

in collaboration with Hannah Schilling, PhD candidate in Sociology, HU Berlin


“Là où la vie vous attend, c’est dans ce que vous n’avez pas préparé” (Wisdom Senufo, Cote d’Ivoire)* - Youth’s fabric of a future in today’s Abidjan, West-African metropolis


Young people have difficulties to find their place in contemporary societies, in the Global North as in the Global South. Being enthusiastic and faithful in the society isn’t easy any more.

Rather, young people live with the perspective that they won’t find work, and experience the limits of governmental politics to suggest a social project to secure their wellbeing. Hence, they easily feel useless in a society that seems to be in a crisis of sense. This all together nourishes a spirit of faithlessness and insecurity about the future of young generations, among adult as well as young urban residents.

We will present the current research on the question of youth in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in particular and in the countries of the Global South in general. Here, we start from the actors’ pragmatic intelligence in their concrete situation. More precisely, we won’t tackle the question in normative terms, by asking what should have been done, or what hasn’t been done. Rather, we start from the living reality of young urbanites in Abidjan and their understanding of their context, including the barriers and resources in their environment. This allows for another analytical perspective without any prediction or a priori, which embeds the question in the continuity of trans-generational justice.

We will discover the current and past identities, forms and fabrics, as they have been elaborated by the young urbanites and the local social systems. Hence, the updating and elaboration of a perspective of a society of the possible will be at the heart of the presentation. A society as it is fabricated day to day when actors are confronted with the urgency to conceive a present and to design a future in their everyday life.

* Own translation: What you must expect from life is what you didn’t plan.


Die Veranstaltung am 13.04.2015 wird im Rahmen der Strategischen Initiativförderung durch die Stabsstelle Internationalisierung der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin finanziert.



Montag, 20.04.2015


Filmscreening Welcome, Goodbye
(N. Rebhan 2014)

präsentiert von der Forschungsinitiative "Touristifizierung / New Urban Mobilities" des Georg-Simmel-Zentrums für Metropolenforschung der HU Berlin.

Filmvorführung Welcome Goodbye mit anschließender Diskussion mit der Regisseurin Nana Rebhan
Moderation: Natalie Stors, Christoph Sommer & Nils Grube
with english subtitles!

Zum Film:
Der Dokumentarfilm WELCOME GOODBYE beschäftigt sich mit dem Phänomen des rasant wachsenden Tourismus in Berlin und dessen positiven wie negativen Folgen. Ob enthusiastische Taiwanesinnen, die ganz Europa in nur acht Tagen scannen, ein mexikanischer Filmemacher, der unbedingt einen Kurzfilm während seines kurzen Aufenthalts realisieren möchte, oder ein holländischer Schriftsteller, der einen Roman über Berlin schreibt: sie alle und noch ein paar mehr wollen ihr ganz eigenes Berlin entdecken.
Sowohl die Touristen als auch die Zuschauer selbst werden von einem Berliner namens Christian durch den Film begleitet. Es entsteht ein Spannungsfeld aus den persönlichen Erlebnissen der Reisenden verschiedener Nationen und Kulturen und Interviewblöcken, in denen u.a. Politiker, Tourismusmanager, Metropolenforscher und Berliner Bürger zu Wort kommen.Gentrifizierungsphobien, Touristenfeindlichkeit, Existenzängste – WELCOME GOODBYE versucht die momentan vorherrschenden gesellschaftlichen Stimmungen einzufangen und zu dokumentieren und geht dabei der Frage nach: Wem gehört Berlin?



The documentary WELCOME GOODBYE focuses on the subject of the rapidly growing tourism in Berlin and all the good and bad that comes with it.

Enthustiastic Taiwanese girls scanning the whole of Europe within 8 days, a Mexican filmmaker who is determined to shoot a short film during his 2 day stay or a Dutch writer working on his Berlin novel - they all and millions more want to discover their own version of Berlin.

Both tourists and audience are accompanied by Christian, a Berliner, through the film.

The very personal experiences of travellers from various countries and cultures are contrasted with interviews, featuring politicians, tourism managers, urban researchers and Berlin citizens.

Fear of gentrification, animosities towards tourists, existential dreads - WELCOME GOODBYE seeks to capture the currently prevailing moods in the soul of the city and follows the question: who owns Berlin?


Montag, 27.04.2015

der Vortrag von Prof. Frances Fox Piven von der CUNY muss leider aus privaten Gründen entfallen


es trägt dafür vor:

Prof. Dr. Talja Blokland, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin



2015 Winners

The BSA and SAGE are very pleased to announce this year's winners of the journals SAGE Prize for Innovation and/or Excellence: 

 "Social Mix Revisited: Neighbourhood Institutions as Setting for Boundary Work and Social Capital"


by Julia Nast & Talja Blokland
Policy makers tend to think that residential ‘mixing’ of classes and ethnic groups will enhance social capital. Scholars criticize such ‘mixing’ on empirical and theoretical grounds. This article argues that the critics may focus too much on neighbourhoods. Mixing within neighbourhood institutions might work differently, we argue, drawing on data from a mixed school in Berlin, Germany. While class boundaries are constructed, we also find class-crossing identifications based on setting-specific characteristics, highlighting the setting’s importance and the agency of lower/working and middle-class parents. Parents create ties for exchanging setting-specific resources: child-related social capital. Institutional neighbourhood settings can hence be important for boundary work and social capital. Criticism of social capital and social mix should not overlook the role of networks for urban inequality.

Montag, 04.05.2015


Kiev and Vegas: Film Screening and Talk with Łukasz Konopa


As visual methodologies become increasingly popular among urban researchers, we have devoted a number of Think&Drink sessions to screenings of films that tackle urban issues ranging from evictions through urban activism to large-scale construction projects. In the upcoming T&D film session, the documentary filmmaker and sociologist Łukasz Konopa will present two of his recent films and talk about the visual styles he applies in his work. We will start with an excerpt from Łukasz’s documentary on urban transformations in postsocialist cities (with focus on Kiev) and next watch his short film on everyday practices in crisis-ridden Las Vegas. We will then discuss how different visual languages can be used to approach complex social phenomena and processes and address the workings of visibility and visuality in urban contexts.


Łukasz Konopa graduated from the National Film and Television School in the UK (MA Documentary Direction) and University of Warsaw (MA Sociology). His films have played at numerous festivals around the world, such as, Hot Docs, Clermont-Ferrand, Camerimage, SXSW. In 2013, his short AFTER was awarded Best Documentary by CILECT, the association of the world’s major film and television schools; in 2014 he was selected as a Berlinale Talent. He’s made short films for the Guardian, TVP1 (Polish Television), and BREAKING THE NEWS at the Berlin Art Biennale. He also worked as an edit director on Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s already legendary (and still uncompleted) second feature DAU. 





Montag, 11.05.2015

Dr. Matthias Bernt, Leibniz Institut für Regionalentwicklung und Strukturplanung


Shrinkage, financialisation and welfare-cuts – the linkages in Halle-Neustadt



Using a mix of survey data, results from a study on local planning politics and fieldwork, the presentation discusses the interplay of planning and welfare policies with global financial markets in the “making” of social segregation in Halle-Neustadt, a shrinking New Town in Eastern Germany.

Here, different developments come together. First, Neustadt has experienced dramatic population loss in the last two decades. These brought about large-scale demolition programmes, as well as planning policies which aim to transform parts of the neighbourhood into green space. Second, Neustadt has experienced two waves of privatisation in the last two decades, leading to a complete change of ownership structures. Municipal and cooperative owners have been largely displaced by national and international financial investors which hold their stock as an asset and aim for short-term gains, rather than long-term development. Third, cuts regarding the “reimbursement of housing costs” (“Kosten der Unterkunft”) have put more pressure on welfare recipients to live in the cheapest housing available on the local market and have led to a “business-model” based on low, but state-subsidized, rents in peripheral estates. Together, these developments have brought about an increased impoverishment of an already difficult neighbourhood and fostered processes of socio-spatial polarization.


Montag, 18.05.2015


Prof. Florian Urban,

History of Architecture and Urban Studies (HAUS)
Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art



The New Tenement


The project analyses New Tenements, that is, high-density, multi-storey urban residences that have been erected since the 1970s, often (but not always) following models from the nineteenth century. It concentrates on five sample cities, Berlin, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Rotterdam and Vienna.


New Tenements are being analysed as the architecture of the “return to the city” – that is, the symbolic reversal of suburbanisation and the inception of a new discourse that connects inner-city residency with civic liberties, public life, cultural innovation, democratic governance, and social justice. Taking a critical perspective on architecture as a significant factor in this process, the project maps the “return to the city” in terms of historic origins, evolution, design, and local differences.


The project started in May 2014 and is financed by a two-year grant by the Leverhulme Trust. The presentation will be a report on a work in progress. The author is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin Technical Unversity.


Florian Urban is Professor and Head of History of Architectural/Urban Studies at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Berlin, an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA and a Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture from MIT. He research on the post-1970 period in East Germany led to the publication of his books Neo-historical East Berlin – Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970-1990 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009). He is also the author of Tower and Slab – Histories of Global Mass Housing (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012).




Montag, 01.06.2015


Christian Schmid, Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich


Planetary Urbanization: Towards a new epistemology of the urban?


New forms of urbanization are unfolding around the world challenging inherited conceptions of the urban as a fixed, bounded and universally generalizable settlement type. The field of urban studies has produced a vast array of images, models and maps of urban conditions in the modern world, most of which presuppose the boundedness, distinctiveness and coherence of “urban” units relative to a purportedly “non-urban” realm said to be located outside or beyond it. However, throughout the history of capitalism, the process of urbanization has relentlessly blurred the urban/non-urban divide, generating new constellations of large-scale sociospatial connectivity, intensified land-use, and socio-metabolic transformation.

This talk will report on the ongoing collaborative work with Neil Brenner on planetary urbanization. Building upon reflexive approaches to critical social theory and our own research on planetary urbanization, we argue for a radical rethinking of inherited epistemological assumptions regarding the urban and urbanization. In this conceptualization, the emphasis on urban settlement types is superseded by an investigation of variegated urbanization processes. Our arguments are intended to ignite and advance further debate on the epistemological foundations for critical urban theory and practice today.



Christian Schmid is geographer and sociologist. He is Professor at the Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich. He is a founding member of the International Network for Urban Research and Action (INURA). He is the author of Stadt, Raum und Gesellschaft: Henri Lefebvre und die Theorie der Produktion des Raumes (Steiner, 2005), a critical reconstruction of Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space; co-author of Switzerland: An Urban Portrait (together with Roger Diener, Jacques Herzog, Marcel Meili, Pierre de Meuron; Birkhäuser, 2006); and co-editor of Urban Revolution Now: Henri Lefebvre in Social Research and Architecture (together with Łukasz Stanek and Ákos Moravánszky; Ashgate, 2015). He currently works together with Neil Brenner on the development of a renewed theory of urbanization. In the framework of the ETH Future Cities Laboratory Singapore he leads a project on the international comparison of urbanization processes in eight large urban regions.






Montag, 08.06.2015


Linda McDowell, School of Geography, University of Oxford


Moving stories: gender, transnational migration and writing a new economic geography?



In this talk, I want to explore the significance of the coincidence of rising rates of in-migration to the UK and the transformation of the labour market into one dominated by polarised service sector employment. Women are increasingly significant in both migrant flows and as new entrants to the labour market and yet they seldom figure in the dominant theories of economic change by geographers and others. I will look at challenges to dominant explanations of labour market change, as well as raise questions about methods, and illustrate the arguments with oral narratives about the working lives of women migrants.





Montag, 15.06.2015


Dr. Christine Barwick, SciencesPo Paris


Upward mobility and neighborhood choice: Turkish-Germans in Berlin


Cities all over the world are increasingly becoming super diverse, due to immigration. Studies on urban change, however, mostly focus on white middle classes and disregard ethnic minorities as actors in the processes of urban change. I will move beyond this limitation by analyzing upward mobility, residential choice and its consequences of Turkish-Germans in Berlin. Particularly, I will focus on the Turkish-Germans access to and provision of resources. We will see that daily practices and networks are as, if not more, important for the flow of resources as the place of residence. Through providing and accessing resources, the Turkish-Germans do not only connect neighborhoods of different socioeconomic statuses, but also connect to people with diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. Upwardly mobile ethnic minorities may thus be brokers for social and ethnic mix, which emerges, however, not primarily by sharing the same neighborhood, but through daily practices and networks.



Montag, 22.06.2015


Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis,

Department of Geography, Harokopio University Athens


Debt Crisis and Land Dispossession in Greece as part of the global “land fever”


The exploitation of land, but also of natural elements linked to it ―such as water, forests, landscape, the subsurface and biodiversity― nowadays comprise investment targets for local and international speculative capital at some unprecedented extent, intensity and geographical spread. From 2009 on, Greece became a target country due to the current debt crisis which has decisively contributed to the devalorization/depreciation of the exchange value of land, decreasing monetary values by 15-30%―depending on the area―when compared to the 2005 prices. The special legal status imposed by the Troika as of 2010, forms a lucrative environment for speculators-investors, dramatically altering the legal, constitutional order and imposing something of a semi-protectorate status upon the country. This short presentation, based on author’s book, explains how the debt crisis in Greece made public land via privatizations and fire sales a major target for dispossession by global and local capital.




Costis Hadjimichalis is professor Emeritus of Economic Geography and Regional Development at the Department of Geography, Harokopio University Athens. He had previous post at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and was visiting professor at Roskilde University (Denmark), UCLA, Berkely (USA), Oslo (Norway), NIRSA (Ireland), Macquire University (Australia) and Università deggli studi di Padova (Italy). His research concerns uneven geographical development and socio-spatial justice in the Eurozone, the social and spatial effects of economic crisis in Southern Europe, the role of small firms in local development and a radical interpretation of landscapes as part of everyday life. He is section editor for Regional Development in the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Elsevier), managing editor of Geographies (a Greek journal) and member of editorial board in several other international journals. His recent books (all in Greek) include: Contemporary Greek Landscapes (editor, 2011), Athens: Melissa, Space in Radical Thinking (co-authored with D. Vaiou, 2012), Athens: Nissos/N. Poulantzas Institute, Debt Crisis and Land Dispossession, Athens: ΚΨΜ Publishers (2014) and Crisis Spaces: Austerity, Resistance and Solidarity in the European South, London: Routledge (forthcoming, 2016).


Montag, 29.06.2015


Prof. Les Back,

Goldsmiths, University of London


The Migrant City: Living in a World of Divided Connectedness


In this lecture Les Back talks about a new ethnography he is completing with Shamser Sinha. The book is the story of London as seen through the eyes of thirty adult migrants. It documents their experience through a dialogic or sociable sociology in which the participants are also becoming authors.  The lecturer explores how the social divisions and hierarchies of belonging are emerging which damage the experience of time and a sense of a liveable life.  It also looks a the ways in which young migrants from all over the work make a inhospitable city habitable and re-make the terms of conviviality as a result.








Montag, 06.07.2015


Prof. Gabriel Feltran,

Center for Metropolitain Studies, Sao Paulo


Crime Policies and State Policies in Sao Paulo: About Social Conflict in Urban Brazil


Brazilian biggest metropolis is currently undergoing a major transformation largely due to the economic development Brazil has experienced over the last decade. On the one hand, unemployment rates of the “new global player” reached the lowest level in history in 2013, less than 4%; on the other hand, such a scenario expresses renewed levels of social conflict, increasing criminal violence and incarceration. Based on ethnographic fieldwork which has been conducted since 2005 in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, the exposition presents a panorama of transformations in poor Brazilian neighborhoods and favelas from the 1970's until today. This overview gives empirical ground for a reflection on Brazilian development and its margins, focusing on both social conflict and social legitimacy that nowadays emerges from coexistent normative regimes as “crime”, or the “criminal world”, and state policies in urban outskirts.


Montag, 13.07.2015


Prof. Andrew Cumbers,

Professor of Urban and Regional Political Economy, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow

currently on a ‘DAAD Research Stay’ at  the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS)


Reclaiming Public Ownership: Making Space for Economic Democracy



The twentieth century was dominated by two contrasting utopias: one, a vision of centralised state ownership that could overthrow capitalism and deliver the fruits of their labour to the masses; and the other, Hayek’s market-driven nirvana of individualism, democracy and freedom underpinned by private ownership. Ultimately, both visions ushered in centralising dystopias in the form totalitarian command economies in the former socialist countries and a corporate driven elite project of globalisation and privatisation.


As the twenty first century unfolds - with a financial crisis, economic recession and reheated neoliberal regime of fiscal austerity - there is an urgent need for a more democratic, egalitarian and participatory political economy that reclaims the public realm from its appropriation by elite interests. Yet, whilst private ownership is largely discredited, so too are older models of public ownership.

In this talk, I argue that a revitalised model of decentred and diverse public ownership is essential to this task.[*] I set out a series of principles for rethinking public ownership and consider recent examples that hold the promise of democratising the economy.

[*] Argued for at greater length in a recent book (Cumbers A 2012 Reclaiming Public Ownership: Making Space for Economic Democracy, Zed).