Transformation of the City Space

Transformation of the City Space

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December 10, 2010 / 6.00 pm

Center for Urban History, Lviv

A presentation took place of the second issue of the journal of social criticism "Commons," which was dedicated to the transformation of the city space.

As of 2008, half of the population lives in cities. Rapid urbanization is considered one of the primary social processes of contemporary times, and cities themselves play a key role in neoliberal restructuralization. Urbanization is so closely connected with the development of capitalism that to understand the city to a large degree means to understand neoliberalism – and vice versa.

That is why the "urbanistic focus" of research is so important in the second issue of "Spilne." The world perspective in this issue is presented by David Harvey, one of the leading Marxist theorists of cities, who analyzes urbanization from the point of view of its role in the capitalist system; Michael Davis, who proposes an optimistic-utopian view on the future of cities; and Vlad Myhnen, who we spoke with about his participation in the international project "Diversity of Neoliberalism and Alternative Regional and City Strategies."

Brought to one’s attention are also the analyses of concrete problems of Ukrainian cities (buildings that are in derelict condition, the politics of housing and town planning, dumps), a survey of local protest initiatives, which lately have become more abundant and declare their "right to the city" (for instance, the "Save Old Kyiv" movement, protests against clearing Kharkiv’s forest-park, and also the British movement of apartment renters), art in the city space (the "From City to City" exhibit in Kyiv, public art in Kharkiv) and research projects (a German-Polish-Ukrainian project, necessitated by problematic, post-industrial and marginalized territories in three cities – Berlin, Gdansk and Kyiv).   It seemed logical to us to give space to those who make decisions. What came of this? It can be read in the interview with the (now former) head architect of Kyiv.

The social criticism journal "Commons" is a collective non-commercial project that has as its goal a critical analysis of social problems on a Ukrainian and worldwide scale.  The first issue (spring 2010) was dedicated to the criminalization of social problems in the era of neoliberalism; the third issue (spring 2011) will look at the politics of education; and the fourth (2011), the exploitation of classes and class struggle.