“Ein unbesetzter und unbesetzbarer Ort” by Nikolai Roskamm
Translated by Manuela Kölke
In La Revolution urbaine, a founding text of critical urban research, Henri Lefebvre describes the city as a “pseudo-concept” that no longer corresponds to “any societal object” (1990, 65). In the mid-1980s, Jürgen Habermas, in his essay “Modern and Postmodern Architecture” asks the question, whether the concept of the city is not outdated because it no longer keeps pace with the constant change of the urban form of life (1985, 24). At about the same time, the urban sociologist Peter Saunders speaks of the “sociological irrelevancy” of the city and its traditional determining factors (1987, 17, similarly Häußermann / Siebel 1978). The planning theorist John Friedmann formulates at the beginning of the millennium succinctly: “The city is dead” (2002, XI). Quite recently, Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid – two prominent representatives of the critical urban studies – are writing in a programmatic text about their theory of planetary urbanization: “The category of the ‚city’ has today become obsolete as an analytical social science tool” (2014, 162).
The subject of my text is precisely this useless division, this inoperable and traditional concept of the city.