Erik Swyngedouw, “Insurgent Architects and the Spectral Return of the Political in the Post-Democratic City”

“Since 2011, a seemingly endless proliferation of urban rebellions, sparked by a variety of conditions and unfolding against the backdrop of very different historical and geographical contexts, has profoundly disturbed the apparently cozy neoliberal status quo and disquieted various economic and political elites. The aftermath of such urban insurrections has provided the starting point for the arguments developed in this presentation. I proceed in four steps. First, I discuss the contested configurations of the processes of post-democratization. Next, I propose a series of theoretical and political arguments that help frame the evacuation of the properly political from the spaces of post-democratic policy negotiation on the one hand and the spectral re-emergence of the political on the other. In the concluding part, perspectives for re-vitalizing the political possibilities of a spatialized emancipatory project are presented.” Erik Swyngedouw is professor of geography at Manchester University. His research interests include political-ecology, hydro-social conflict, urban governance, democracy and political power, and the politics of globalization. He previously taught at Oxford University and held the Vincent Wright Visiting Professorship at Science Po, Paris, in 2014. He recently co-edited (with Japhy Willson) The Post-Political and Its Discontents: Spectres of Radical Politics Today (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). His new book with MIT Press, Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain, focuses on the issue of water and how it has been affected by emerging forms of social power in Spain.

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