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Urban access: Contested spaces and contested politics

Ulrich Ufer

Keywords: GENTRIFICATION; HAMBURG; LATE MODERNITY; NEOLIBERAL CITY; RIGHT TO THE CITY; URBAN ACTIVISM

Abstract

The global Right to the City network challenges exclusionary effects of neoliberal urbanization by claiming citizens' rights for access to urban space and to the benefits of urban culture. Artists belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in the context of gentrification and urban exclusion. At the same time, their creative and expressive capacities put them in a privileged position to voice protest. Oscillating between counterhegemony, accommodation, and strategic collusion, a group of artist-activists from the city of Hamburg in Germany have been employing the means of empowered symbolism, activist art, and emancipatory knowledge in order to implement an alterpolitics of space. Their occupation of the historic Hamburg Gängeviertel has successfully repoliticized questions over urban use value and urban access, which had been purposefully excluded from the realm of the political in the revanchist, neoliberal city.

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