Dr.Phillip Reick - "Why Social History?" - A Few Insights from Nineteenth-Century Berlin

"Why Social History?" - A Few Insights from Nineteenth-Century Berlin
Activity Date: 
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

Following the rapid spread of gentrification processes across the globe, discussions about social responses to neighborhood change feature prominently in the Social Sciences studying collective action. From Oslo to Beirut, from Johannesburg to San Francisco, scholars analyze the multiple way how urban citizens struggle against the privatization of public space and the displacement of entire communities. According to widespread perceptions in Urban Sociology and Social Movement Research, such movements apparently popped out of thin air in the aftermath of the rebellious 1960's. Yet this ignores more than a century of intense urban struggle. In his presentation, Philipp Reick argued that the reason for the neglect of earlier conflicts over housing and inner-city land results from a theoretical bias in Social History rather than an actual lack of urban protest in the past. In particular, Reick suggested that the narrow focus on struggles grounded in the sphere of production drew away attention from struggles against the commodification of resources such as water, land, or housing. Focusing on nineteenth-century Berlin, Reick revealed a highly uneven dynamic of displacement that gave birth to a very diverse and heterogeneous movement voicing its own, peculiar notion of a ‘Right to the City’.