SEMINAR CITIES : Erik Swyngedouw, wenesday 2 april : « Insurgent Architects: Spectres of Radical Urban Politics Today »

31 mars 2014


Insurgent Architects: Spectres of Radical Urban Politics Today

Wednesday 2 April 2014

12.30 – 2 pm

Sciences Po – Room J210

13, rue de l’Université

75007 Paris


Over the summer of 2013, the Taksim Square revolt in Istanbul and the Brazilian urban insurgencies rocked the established urban order, with still uncertain and largely unpredictable outcomes.

During the magical year 2011, a seemingly never ending proliferation of urban rebellions sparked off by a variety of conditions and unfolding against the backdrop of very different historical and geographical contexts profoundly disturbed the apparently cosy neoliberal status-quo and disquieted various economic and political elites.

A wave of deeply political protest is rolling through the world’s cities, whereby those who do not count demand a new constituent process for producing space politically. Under the generic name of Real Democracy Now!’, the heterogeneous mix of gatherers are outraged by and exposed the variegated ‘wrongs’ and spiralling inequalities of autocratic neo-liberalization and actually existing instituted democratic governance. The era of urban social movements as the horizon of progressive urban struggles, celebrated ever since Manuel Castells’ seminal 1980s book The City and the Grassroots (Castells 1993), seems to be over. A much more politicized if not radical mobilization, animated by insurgent urban architects, is increasingly choreographing the contemporary theatre of urban politicized struggle and conflict.

It is precisely the aftermath of such urban insurrections that provides the starting point for the arguments developed in this presentation. From a radical political perspective, the central question that has opened up, after the wave of insurgencies of the past few years petered out, revolves centrally around what to do and what to think next. Is there further thought and practice possible after the squares are cleared, the tents broken up, the energies dissipated, and everyday urban life resumes its routine practices?


Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at Manchester University. His research interests include political-ecology, urban governance, democracy and political power, and the politics of globalisation. He was previously professor of geography at Oxford University (until 2006) and holds the Vincent Wright Visiting Professorship in Political Science at Science Po, 2014.

His latest book edited with Wilson J. is entitled The Post-Political and its Discontents: Spaces of Depoliticization, Spectres of Radical Politics, Edinburgh University Press, 2014 (forthcoming).


Collective discussion

Free entrance according to available places


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