Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis

Open lecture with Erik Swyngedouw

Time: 21 March 2013 at 09:00 - 12:00
Place: Mejan Arc, lecture room, third floor, Royal Institute of Art, Flaggmansvägen 1. 

Erik Swyngedouw, professor in geography at University of Manchester , visits Royal Institute of Art and gives an open lecture entitled Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis.

“Western democracies are only the political facades of economic power. A façade with colours, banners, endless debates about the sacrosanct democracy. We live in an era where we can discuss everything. With one exception: Democracy. She is there, an acquired dogma. Don’t touch, like a museum display. Elections have become the representation of an absurd comedy, shameful, where the participation of the citizen is very weak, and in which the governments represent the political commissionaires of economic power” (José Saramago, 2006).

What is the democratic polis all about? What do we precisely mean by democracy? Eric Swyngedouw, professor of Geography at University of Manchester, points towards the disappearance of the democratic polis and its gradual replacement of a post-political city, a city of elite fantasies and of empty signifiers. In parallel, an insurgent polis is asking for Real Democracy Now. Is there still hope for the emergence of the political city? How can we reclaim the polis again, if at all? Can a properly democratic common urbanity still be thought of and practiced in the 21s century?

Texts for preparations are handed out in advance.
Please contact Henrietta Palmer, Professor of Architecture:
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This lecture is part of the course In Search of Common Ground running at Mejan Arc, and is organized in collaboration with the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University.

Erik Swyngedouw