Margit Mayer paper in CITY journal
25 March 2013
Margit Mayer gave the UCL Urban Laboratory Annual Lecture in October 2012 on 'The Urban Question Under Conditions of Globalization'
An article based on this talk is published in volume 17, issue 1 of CITY journal.
First world urban activism: Beyond austerity urbanism and creative city politics
The paper looks at contemporary urban activism as it mobilizes around policies and conflicts characteristic of the comparatively privileged Western cities of the global North. It first analyzes the particularities of neoliberal urbanism and its implications for (divisions between) urban social movements, and secondly looks at how today's movements might move beyond their current predicaments, which lie in the tensions between more and less privileged movement groups occupying rather different strategic positions. Corresponding to the widespread trend of creative city politics, a sector of urban movements has flourished that benefits from innovative policies fostering alternative and (sub)cultural activism; on the other hand, various movements mobilizing around the intensifying trends of austerity urbanism have largely remained at a distance from leftist, autonomous and countercultural movements. The divides are beginning to be bridged in new forms of (post-)Occupy collaborations that bring together austerity victims and other groups of urban 'outcasts' with (frequently middle-class-based) radical activists, allowing both to acknowledge their differences. This, it is argued, constitutes a necessary condition for struggles against the exclusivity of neoliberal urbanism to be effective.