6. Mai 2024

Urban property conflicts in Europe, East and West: A blog series on local struggles for self-governance

Urban property relations have always been contested, but they have been notably re-politicized in recent years. After decades dominated by the privatisation of public goods and services, the question Who owns the city? has sparked new struggles throughout Europe. Ownership of urban housing, public space, and local infrastructure has re-emerged as a key field of political contestation. 

This blogpost series is comprised of spotlights on various struggles for urban spaces in Eastern and Western Europe. The posts are based on papers presented at an international workshop held at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in October 2023, jointly organised by projects C04 and B07 of the research centre SFB 294 Structural Change of Property.  

Conceptually, the series is bound together by the observation that urban ownership claims draw on intensified discourses of self-governance. While municipal governments are facing new expectations that they provide citizens with accessible public services, they are also being confronted with emerging calls for participation and self-organisation from below. Increasingly, self-governance ideas relate not only to municipalities themselves, but are also being realised on smaller scales, such as in housing communities, cooperatives, and district committees.

While each of the posts provides intriguing insights into local cases and conditions, the series also offers a broad overview of how city dwellers in various parts of Europe are engaging with the property constellations with which they are being confronted. This includes legacies of state-socialist urban planning and its dysfunctionalities stemming from a near-complete disregard for property as well as the unwelcome consequences of neoliberal urban policies that have tended to disregard everything but private property.

Exploring diverse ways of coping with, and, in some cases, transcending these historically shaped constellations, the series highlights a variety of European experiences connected to urban property relations. In doing so, it attests to the significance of property as both an object of local political struggles and an analytical concept for understanding their recent dynamics. 

Ralf Hoffrogge: Commons and Constitution: historical and legal roots of the German socialization movement
Julia Kunikowska: "Are we living in no man's land?" Property conflicts in a village turned part of the capital of Poland
Bru Laín, Victoria Sánchez Belando, Giuseppe Micciarelli: Commoning the city: Reshaping property rights and urban governance in Barcelona and Naples
Julie Kuschel, Allan Sandham: “Welcome back, Sozialismus?” Vom öffentlichen Diskurs und Begründungsmustern um die Enteignungsforderungen von Wohnraum
Maria Sapunova: When property relations face the built legacy of socialism
Matt Thompson: Gathering the family of alternatives for post-neoliberal cities
Bettina Barthel: Self-governance as community control: From the roots of the Community Land Trusts model to the first CLT in Germany