Panel 1. Specters of a Neo-liberal City
Municipal management reforms all over the world always are inscribed with the future trauma. Beyond the apparent chaotic jumble of simulations involved in urban development we find deep-going hidden rifts and shifts in the social foundations of the cities, which had been built in the post-war period. Policies of safety and soft segregation, strategies of pretty facades and architectural renovation, smart technologies and conveniences offer much more than just additional options. These processes are already actively employed to erase the whole life-styles and architectural layers from the urban scene, and to bar other possibilities of urban development and social equilibrium. Despite their political and material distinctions, Moscow and Beirut, Los Angeles and Barcelona find themselves within the same horizon of neo-liberal urbanism. These common features require a most careful analysis, and not so much in the name of the cities' past as in the interests of their future. How is this presumably common and "transparent" space split with barriers and borders? What and who disappears from the urban scene when neo-liberal managers and commercial operators take charge? Where the removed elements end up? Are these tactics of seduction sufficient for the organization of pure and pretty, but at the same time socially selective cities? How can you manage that part of the population which does not conform to prescribed standards? What role is given to the replicas of historical buildings in the city centers and to safety procedures in the areas of comfort?
ALEXANDER BIKBOV (RUSSIA) Sociologist, editor of the interdisciplinary journal Logos, associate fellow at the Maurice Halbwachs Center in Paris. He is involved in various research and general projects examining structural changes in Russian society, perception of social hierarchies and inequalities in today's world, neo-liberal reforms in education and culture, public and protest movements, social history of science, and the sociology of knowledge. Author of the book The Grammar of Order: Historical Sociology of the Concepts which Change our Reality (2014) as well as academic and educational essays explaining the changes occurring in contemporary Russia and the world.Watch video