Fall 2016



Change through Culture – Culture through Change:” Narrating Urban Transformation Processes in Germany’s Ruhr Valley

Julia Sattler, TU Dortmund

Monday 3 October


In the past two centuries, Germany’s Ruhr Region has undergone massive processes of transformation: from an agglomeration of small towns in the mid-19th century to a center of heavy industry with coal and steel, then on to a cultural center investing into the knowledge economy and environment-friendly technologies. Alongside these economic processes and the actual changes made in the landscape, the population has had to constantly re-invent itself as well as the image of its cities and of the region as a whole.

The opening of formerly industrial settings to the public in the course of the International Building Exhibition Emscherpark (1989-1999) has added several narrative challenges to this process—how to address heavy industrial labor in its absence, how to re(dis)cover a man-made landscape shaped by the industry, how to deal with the complex heritage of the past: even today, the Ruhr Region remains “work in progress.” The aesthetic and structural qualities indeed amount to a poetics of urban transformation.

If one were to follow the ideas perpetuated in official marketing strategies, the Ruhr Region of the twenty-first century is not only a (multi)cultural epicenter with just as many theaters, museums and opera houses as the world’s largest cities; a region on the move. But there is also a different side to this story: the story of a place still suffering from the long-term consequences of both the industrial age and systematic de-industrialization, but also now from the new threat of gentrification. Images of a region “on the up” stand in stark contrast to the nostalgic idea that the ruins of formerly industrial sites are the last traces of a vanishing city.

The talk will highlight the different narrative strings by which the Ruhr Region at the moment constructs its identity. It will address the difficulties of narrating post-industrial landscapes as well as the complex ways in which the industrial past enters into and complicates these new narratives. It will also point to the different ways in which the Ruhr Region has tried to master these complications.


Julia Sattler (b. 1980) teaches American Studies at TU Dortmund University in Germany. Her research on planning discourses and planning cultures in the Ruhr Valley and Detroit in dialogue is located at the intersection of American Studies and Urban Planning. She is specifically interested in discourses of social justice and in future visions for post-industrial cities. This research project emerged out of her experience working in urban redevelopment in the Ruhr Valley.


Between 2012 and 2015, Julia Sattler directed an international PhD program on “Urban Transformations in the USA” at the University Alliance Ruhr. In 2013, she was a visiting scholar to the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; in 2014, she was a guest scholar to the University of Iowa’s Planning School. She is currently preparing her stay at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University, where she will be conducting research on the relationship between poetry and global feminism in August and September 2016.



Past Lectures

Gentrification in the post-crash city: austerity, stigma and evictions

Kirsteen Paton, University of Liverpool

Monday 19 September


Post-financial crash, gentrification has evolved and so too have its effects. Deeply institutionalised as regeneration, gentrification is not simply a fringe neighbourhood process, it is policy, it is widespread; it is everyday. State-provided housing and welfare offered some vital protection against gentrification and evictions for much of 20th century. Today, under financial capitalism, housing is firmly cast as a global financial product and the subsequent austerity project – an intense political project that extends the economy of debt to the individual – has led to the erosion of this protection. Never has the divide in housing wealth and housing poverty been so stark. There is an intricate relationship between land value and (de)valuing of people characterising today’s gentrification in the post-crash, austerity city. To illustrate this I will chart the evolution of the hegemonic project of gentrification. I draw from research in Glasgow, in different neighbourhoods with different regeneration projects – one pre-crisis, one post-crisis – and under different governments. This comparison reveals the evolution of state-led gentrification and its wider and deeper impacts revealing how this project matures, realised more consensually under more prosperous times and punitively under more austere times.


Dr Kirsteen Paton is a lecturer at the University of Liverpool teaching on the areas of class and urban sociology. She is the author of Gentrification: A Working-Class Perspective  (Ashgate, 2014) which explores the impacts of gentrification and regeneration policies on a working-class neighbourhood. Her recent research explores regeneration and stigma in Glasgow’s East End in relation to the Commonwealth Games and the rise of evictions in relation to welfare reform in the UK. Her forthcoming book Class and Everyday Life (Routledge, forthcoming 2017) explores the everyday lived experiences of class in 21st century neoliberal Britain.

Creative cities and the fragmentation of socio-economic space
Bas van Heur, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Monday 7 March 2016, 18.30 – 20.00

Cities across the world are increasingly being reworked around narratives of knowledge-based urban development. Within this broad narrative, the identification of cities as creative spaces and as privileged sites for creative and cultural work has been a highly popular trope of reasoning within both academic and policy circles for at least the last fifteen years. Reflecting on this narrative of knowledge-based and creative urban development, this lecture explores how the various creative city initiatives and strategies contribute to a fragmentation of urban, regional and national socio-economic space. The prioritization of some creative spaces over other non-creative spaces, the local recycling of globally circulating best practices, and the emphasis on particular labour and social skills leads to an understanding of creative spaces as disconnected from its wider urban environment as well as its regional and national hinterlands.

Bas van Heur is professor of human geography and director of the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research. He is also director of the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, a university-wide centre for urban research that brings together research groups from various disciplines. His main research interest is in the politics of urban development and the analysis of urban development strategies and their effects. Theoretically, this has led to contributions on cultural (political) economy and regulation theory, urban laboratories and experimentation, innovation and the knowledge economy. His empirical work is quite diverse and includes research on the cultural and creative industries, migration and neighbourhood change, higher education and urban development, and smart city regions. Underlying this diversity is a consistent interest in how cities function and the ways in which state institutions at various scales (try to) regulate and govern social relations.

Photo Bas van Heur

The fifty year rebellion: Race and resistance in U.S. urban politics
Scott Kurashige, University of Washington Bothell
Thursday March 24 2016, 18.30 – 20.00

For most of the 20th century, cities were seen as the preeminent site for the rise of the American middle class. Millions of foreign and domestic migrants answered the demand for industrial labor, fought to establish trade unions, and settled in newly constructed single-family homes. Despite ongoing social problems, U.S. cities were seen as spaces of progress, opportunity, and prosperity through a discourse encapsulated by the notion of the “American Dream.”
This presentation begins by recognizing the collapse of the “American Dream” and the bipartisan consensus that sustained it. It will then address the polarization that has characterized urban politics of the past fifty years, as globalization and neoliberal restructuring have created winners and losers between cities (wealthy global cities vs. impoverished “Rust Belt” cities) and within cities characterized by gentrification and displacement.
Drawing from my first book on the rise of multiethnic Los Angeles and my second book on the radical activism of Grace Lee Boggs, this presentation will preview the argument of my current book project, “The Fifty-Year Rebellion.” I will especially focus on providing a social movement analysis of the divergent tendencies shaping U.S. politics in the aftermath of the New Deal order. On the one hand, large sectors of the fallen white middle class have bolstered the U.S. right wing through its opposition to racial equity, white flight to the distant suburbs, and hostility to social welfare programs. On the other hand, as the progressive prospects of Black Power and liberal multiculturalism have dissipated, grassroots organizers have increasingly shifted from pursuing a better arrangement under the current system to advancing what Martin Luther King Jr. called a “revolution of values.”

Scott Kurashige is a professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the author of The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Princeton University Press, 2008) and co-author with Grace Lee Boggs of The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press, 2011). He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (2000), previously served on the faculty of the University of Michigan (2000-14), and has been a fellow at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution.

Photo Scott Kurashige

Rio’s Olympic Legacy: Missed opportunities
Dr Roberto Rocco, TU Delft
Monday 2 May, 18.30 – 20.00

This lecture introduces the socio-political context in which the Rio 2016 Olympics will take place and addresses the limitations of the Olympic legacy for the city of Rio de Janeiro. It claims that the spatial strategy associated with the Olympics accentuates the social and racial divide in the city and are devised as a tool for real estate valuation. It spots failures in governance arrangements that have seriously limited the impact of the spatial strategy to respond to the city’s main urgencies.

Roberto Rocco is an Assistant Professor at the Section of Spatial Planning and Strategy of the Faculty of Architecture of the Delft University of Technology. His main fields of research are governance, social sustainability and spatial justice in urban development. Using those concepts as frameworks, he has conducted research in informal urbanization processes in the developing world and regional planning and design. Rocco is currently editing the “Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization”, in which more than 30 cases around the world are analyzed by different authors, seeking to understand how informal urbanization influences access to citizenship and the right to the city. He holds a Master in Urban Planning by the University of Sao Paulo and a Doctorate in regional planning by the TU Delft.

photo roberto rocco

Jane Jacobs – Visionary with results
David Miller, former Mayor of the City of Toronto
Monday 23 May, 18.30 – 20.00

Registration required: email to urbanlectures@euc.eur.nl


Introduction: Jane Jacobs’ idea that it is residents of a city who know best how to plan for its future is both enduring and powerful.  That vision transformed two great world cities – New York and Toronto. David Miller, Mayor of Toronto from 2003 – 2010, was a friend of Jane’s and a believer in her vision.  He will speak to Jane’s enduring legacy as seen in the streets of Toronto today, and how her ideas and writing influenced the city government’s actions during his tenure as Mayor.

David Miller was Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010 and Chair of the influential C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2008 – 2010. Under his leadership, Toronto became widely admired internationally for its environmental leadership, economic strength and social integration. He is a leading advocate for the creation of sustainable urban economies, and a strong and forceful champion for the next generation of jobs through sustainability. David Miller currently serves as President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund – Canada, Canada’s foremost conservation organization. Mr. Miller has held a variety of public and private positions and university affiliations. He is currently an adjunct Professor at York University and a member of the Board of Directors for Centennial College. In his former capacity as Counsel, International Business & Sustainability at Aird & Berlis LLP, Mr. Miller advised companies and international organizations on issues surrounding the creation of sustainable urban economies. David Miller is a Harvard trained economist and professionally a lawyer. He and his wife, lawyer Jill Arthur, are the parents of two children.


Driving Detroit: the quest for respect in the Motor City
George Galster, Wayne State University
Monday 6 June, 18.30 – 20.00

Driving Detroit tries to uncover WHY Detroit is the way it is. It argues that Greater Detroit can be understood as a dual dialectic, one between capital and labour, the other between blacks and whites, manifested on a featureless plain dominated by an oligopolistic industry producing a durable consumer good. The lecture sets the context for these dialectics by describing the region’s geo-political environment and evolving economic and population patterns. It then traces the historical struggles between employers and unions, blacks and whites. It shows how the geography, local government structure, and sociological forces created a housing development system that has led to the abandonment of the city core. It then draws upon psychological principles (summarized as the “quest for respect”) to argue that it has been the populace’s reactions to the stresses produced by the region’s automotive economic base and housing development system that have led to the individual and collective adaptations that characterize the place. Unfortunately, though understandable, these adaptations have proven collectively irrational, positioning the region in an uncompetitive, unsustainable position.
Driving Detroit is published by Penn Press (2012)

George Galster is the Clarence Hilberry Professor of Urban Affairs at Wayne State University. Dr. Galster has held positions at the Universities of: Harvard, Berkeley, North Carolina, Amsterdam, Delft, Glasgow, Mannheim, Oslo, and Western Sydney, among others. He served as Director of Housing Research at the Urban Institute before coming to Wayne State University in 1996. His research has focused on urban neighborhoods and housing markets, exploring how they change and how they change the people who live within them. This has resulted in over 130 peer-reviewed articles, 30 book chapters and seven books. His latest book is Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City (2012). He has provided housing policy consultations to public officials in Australia, Canada, China, Scotland, and the U.S. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T.