Experimental Geographies

"There is tenderness only in the coarsest demand: that no-one shall go hungry any more" – Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1974: 156)

The Housing Question

Really interesting CFP (courtesy of crit-geog):

Call for Papers, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG) 2012, New York, February 24th – 28th

The Housing Question Revisited

Session Organizers:

Henrik Gutzon Larsen (Aalborg University, Denmark)

Anders Lund Hansen (Lund University, Sweden)

Gordon MacLeod (Durham University, UK)

Tom Slater (University of Edinburgh, UK)

The year 2012 marks the 140th anniversary of the publication of the article series by Friedrich Engels, which subsequently was published as the pamphlet The Housing Question.  Whilst less renowned than some of his other writings, the pamphlet has nonetheless proved highly influential to the work of numerous analysts of the urban process under capitalism, particularly in enabling a critical investigation of accumulation strategies, speculative landed developer interests, displacement dynamics, struggles over property rights, and the tension between use and exchange value with respect to urban land and housing.  Of course, for Engels, the housing question was never just about ‘housing’ per se, but about the injustices produced by the underlying structure of socio-political interests constituting capitalist urban land economies and policies, and the role of what he called ‘bourgeois socialists’ in reinforcing that structure.  Far from waning in the period since Engels was writing, the injustices he so clearly identified appear to have steadily expanded in scale and intensity, not least if we consider the contemporary urbanization of China, India, Africa and the ‘Middle East’ and ‘Far East’, and the massive displacement of working class people occurring in the name of economic growth, urban renaissance and modernization.  For example, in an influential essay in New Left Review in 2008, David Harvey draws on Engels’s pamphlet to make connections between the forms of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ in 19th century Paris and mid-twentieth century New York and those taking place in cities like Mumbai and Shanghai today.  Harvey’s essay surely marks an important stepping-stone for further critical analyses, which could prove especially timely in light of the current global financial and economic crisis; one that was intricately intertwined with the housing question through the introduction of financial instruments and innovations in various sectors of housing.

In assessing the enduring relevance of Engels’s contribution, one crucial aim of this session to begin forging a conceptually rigorous approach towards locating the economic and political relations that shape a range of domiciliary forms – gentrification, slum developments, ghettos, condo verticality, gating, and suburbs in all their shapes (pristine, distressed etc) – which at times remain analytically separated in so much research.  In this spirit, we invite theoretically salient and empirically grounded contributions from scholars working on the following topics, where revisiting The Housing Question proves analytically and politically progressive:

–       Rethinking housing, ‘land’ and ‘property’

–       New modes of urbanization and habitat

–       Urban futures: ghettos, gatings, gentrifications, slums

–       Non-profit/social housing – what’s left?

–       Urban commons – what’s left?

–       Housing questions: justice/injustice

–       Urban revolutions: bourgeois and insurgent

–       Housing, land and the state

–       From financial looting to squatting

–       Values of use and exchange: excavating mobilities/Immobilities

Contributors are invited to submit a 250 word abstract by 16th September to one or more of the organizers:

Henrik Gutzon Larsen (hgl@plan.aau.dk)

Anders Lund Hansen (anders.lund_hansen@keg.lu.se)

Gordon MacLeod (Gordon.MacLeod@durham.ac.uk)

Tom Slater (tom.slater@ed.ac.uk)


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