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City Seminar: Infrastructures of Memory: Nationalization from the Grassroots? Berlin Housing Struggles and the Memory of Law

Joanna Kusiak (Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge)
When Jun 11, 2019
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Seminar Room, Department of Geography
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Can we collectively decide to expropriate our greedy landlords? While nationalization is often assumed to be a top-down, state-led intervention, Berlin’s popular movement Deutsche Wohnen Enteignen is currently seeking to expropriate predatory real-estate corporations from below. The key leverage is Article 15 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz), written in the context of the postwar political restructuring of the German state. This legal clause makes it possible to turn land, natural resources or means of production into social ownership for the common good of the society. But can the intrinsically capitalist rule of law really include a window to socialism? Forging a radical proposal to solve the housing crisis, Berlin activists are working simultaneously from within and from without the German legal system, both politicizing the law and exploring its limits.

About Joanna: Joanna Kusiak is a Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. Her work focuses on land, property and the role that legal technicalities play in shaping our cities. She is completing a book based on her PhD, titled Orders of Chaos: Law, Land and Neoliberal Globalization in Warsaw. Joanna’s next project follows urban legal activism in its attempts to reinvent urban property regimes on more egalitarian terms, including new forms of democratic expropriation.   

About the City Seminar: The City Seminar Series this year, co-hosted by the Department of Geography and the Department of Architecture, will convene around the theme ‘Infrastructures of Memory’. The intention of this series is to explore a variety of techniques, technologies, rituals, performances and materialities of memory and remembrance, and how they may reinforce or subvert prevailing power relations.
More information can be found attached and on the City Seminar Facebook Page.