Crisis in the City: Emergency Urbanism
This paper deals with the question how urban crises – whether political, economic, financial, environmental or social – are defined, constructed, or discursively and materially appropriated by urban elites to serve their agendas of urban reform. Inspired by the work of Klein (2007), Smith (2005) and others, it will be argued that specific ‘emergency’ framings of urban decline, impoverishment, disaster, or moments of (violent) disagreement with existing regimes, become shock doctrines that ‘naturalise’ very peculiar policy solutions while eliminating alternatives. In the process, a unifying urban-wide consensus is sculpted that hides the interest-specific interpretations of crisis and highlights the unavoidable nature of policy measures following from it. The alleged urgency to save ‘the’ city from downfall obliterates deep-rooted social conflict around class, gender, or ethnicity. Based on evidence from several neighbourhoods in Malmö, the paper will try to provide a partial answer to the question how ‘disaster urbanism’, or ‘emergency urbanism’, rewrites urban problems of violence, unemployment, segregration and polarization, disinvestment, financial breakdown, political uproar, etcetera, to push through policy reform that would otherwise meet considerable protest and resistance.
- Human Geography
4th NGM, Nordic Geographer’s Meeting, 2011