City Unsilenced : Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy book cover
1st Edition

City Unsilenced
Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy

ISBN 9781138125803
Published June 21, 2017 by Routledge
268 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

What do the recent urban resistance tactics around the world have in common? What are the roles of public space in these movements? What are the implications of urban resistance for the remaking of public space in the "age of shrinking democracy"? To what extent do these resistances move from anti- to alter-politics?

City Unsilenced brings together a cross-disciplinary group of scholars and scholar-activists to examine the spaces, conditions, and processes in which neoliberal practices have profoundly impacted the everyday social, economic, and political life of citizens and communities around the globe. They explore the commonalities and specificities of urban resistance movements that respond to those impacts. They focus on how such movements make use of and transform the meanings and capacity of public space. They investigate their ramifications in the continued practices of renewing democracies. A broad collection of cases is presented and analyzed, including Movimento Passe Livre (Brazil), Google Bus Blockades San Francisco (USA), the Platform for Mortgage Affected People (PAH) (Spain), the Piqueteros Movement (Argentina), Umbrella Movement (Hong Kong), post-Occupy Gezi Park (Turkey), Sunflower Movement (Taiwan), Occupy Oakland (USA), Syntagma Square (Greece), Researchers for Fair Policing (New York), Urban Movement Congress (Poland), urban activism (Berlin), 1DMX (Mexico), Miyashita Park Tokyo (Japan), 15M Movement (Spain), and Train of Hope and protests against Academic Ball in Vienna (Austria).

By better understanding the processes and implications of the recent urban resistances, City Unsilenced contributes to the ongoing debates concerning the role and significance of public space in the practice of lived democracy.

Table of Contents




1. Shrinking Democracy and Urban Resistance: Toward an Emancipatory Politics of Public Space

Jeffrey Hou and Sabine Knierbein


Part I. Mobilizing: Taking to the Streets!

2. Between Street and Home: Mobility, Housing, and the 2013 Demonstrations in Brazil

Luciana da Silva Andrade and João Paulo Huguenin

3. San Francisco’s Tech-led Gentrification: Public Space, Protest, and the Urban Commons

Manissa M. Maharawal

4. Reconfiguring the Public through Housing Rights Struggles in Spain

Melissa García-Lamarca

5. Urban Resistance and Its Expression in Public Space: New Demands and Shared Meanings in Argentina

Paula Rosa and Regina Vidosa


Part 2. Reclaiming: From Public Space to the Political

6. Reclaiming Public Space Movement in Hong Kong: From Occupy Queen’s Pier to the Umbrella Movement

Yun-Chung Chen and Mirana M. Szeto

7. Occupy Gezi Park: the Never-ending Search for Democracy, Public Space and Alternative City-making

Burcu Yiğit Turan

8. The Right to the Sidewalk: the Struggle over Broken Windows Policing, Young People, and NYC Streets

Caitlin Cahill, Brett G. Stoudt, Amanda Matles, Kim Belmonte, Selma Djokovic, Jose Lopez, Adilka Pimentel, María Elena Torre, and Darian X.

9. Leveling the Playfield: Urban Movement in the Strategic Action Field of Urban Policy in Poland

Anna Domaradzka


Part 3. Negotiating: Urban Resistance and Emerging (Counter) Publics

10. Athens’ Syntagma Square Re-loaded: From Staging Disagreement Towards Instituting Democratic Spaces

Maria Kaika and Lazaros Karaliotas

11. Democracy, Occupy Legislature and Taiwan´s Sunflower Movement

Ketty W. Chen

12. Shifting Struggles over Public Space and Public Goods in Berlin: Urban Activism between Protest and Participation

Henrik Lebuhn

13. Occupied Oakland, Past and Present: Land Action on the New Urban Frontier

Marcus Owens and Christina Antiporda


Part 4. Contesting: Against Backlashes, Criminalization, Cooptation and Anti-Pluralism

14. Operation 1DMX and the Mexico City Commune: The Right to the City Beyond the Rule of Law in Public Spaces

Silvano De la Llata Gonzalez

15. Public Space in a Parallel Universe: Conflict, Coexistence and Co-optation between Alternative Urbanisms and the Neoliberalizing City

Elina Kränzle

16. Miyashita Park, Tokyo: Contested Visions of Public Space in Contemporary Urban Japan

Christian Dimmer

17. Worlded Resistance as ‘Alter’ Politics: Train of Hope and the Protest against the Akademikerball in Vienna

Sabine Knierbein and Angelika Gabauer


18. City Unsilenced: Spatial Grounds of Radical Democratization

Sabine Knierbein and Jeffrey Hou

Note on Contributors



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Jeffrey Hou is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. His work focuses on design activism, public space, and cross-cultural placemaking. He is the editor of Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (2010) and he was the City of Vienna Visiting Professor at TU Wien (2013).

Sabine Knierbein is Associate Professor for Urban Culture and Public Space at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, TU Wien. She currently coordinates the AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures. She is the editor of Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe (2014) and Public Space and Relational Perspectives: New Challenges for Architecture and Planning (2015).


"The book documents a moment of resistance that has spread around the world – moving from the Global South to the Global North – and that has attracted castes of people who are not the usual suspects out into the streets. In so many places and cultural contexts, as the pace of social, economic and political disenfranchisement increases, and more people find themselves on the outside of taken-for-granted social systems, the accounts in City Unsilenced shout out loud: these things really happened." -Urban Studies

"This cutting-edge collection raises important and salient questions and provocations about urban resistance in the context of dominant neoliberal practices in many cities in the contemporary era. Its distinctiveness lies not only in its excellent critical analysis but also in its breadth of case studies, drawing insights from a variety of sites and cities across the globe. This is a must-read for urbanists and activists who recognise the crucial importance of public space for transformative urban politics."-Sophie Watson, Professor of Sociology, The Open University

"In response to austerity politics and market-based governance of urban land, large-scale social protest has erupted in the public spaces of cities across the globe. In City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy, editors Jeffrey Hou of UW-Seattle and Sabine Knierbein of SKuOR, Vienna – both scholars of the dynamics of public space –have compiled the stories, strategies and the-ories derived from social movements in urban spaces since 2011. In this volume, the collected authors demonstrate how public spaces in cities operate as both the subject and object of civic unrest." - Naomi Adiv, Portland State University, USA