Álvaro Sevilla Buitrago

Álvaro is Associate Professor in the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the School of Architecture, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. His work articulates urban theory and history to develop a social history of planning — a look from below that helps to reframe the genealogy of our urban present in a critical fashion. His analyses suggest that subaltern classes have been historically urbanized through disciplinary productions of space that suffocate collective forms of spatial self-management and autonomy, fostering uses of the city that are coherent with elite hegemonic territorialities.

This historical investigation has bred several spin-off research avenues in recent years. Firstly, he is interested in understanding urbanization through the spatial dialectic of the ‘commons’ and enclosure, or, the subsumption of autonomous social spaces under capitalist value-practices. He has used the notions of ‘enclosure’ and ‘commoning’ as a lens to explore the structural character of dispossession in capitalist spatializations. Secondly, living in Madrid —a city whose streets are bursting at the seams with the contradictions of a country under deep economic, political and urban crises— it was natural for these ideas to percolate from the realm of history and theory to the examination of the relation between economic decline, neoliberal urban policy and the emergence of new urban social movements in Spain, with particular attention to the ‘indignados’.

He has held a number of visiting positions, most recently as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Spring of 2016. Between 2010 and 2015 he was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Urban.

Selected publications:

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2015) Capitalist formations of enclosure: space and the extinction of the commons, Antipode 47, pp. 999–1020.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2015) Crisis and the city: neoliberalism, austerity planning and the production of space, in F. Eckardt and J. Ruiz (eds.) City of Crisis. The Multiple Contestation of Southern European Cities, Bielefeld: Transcript, pp. 31-49.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2015) Outraged spatialities: the production of public space in the #spanishrevolution, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 18, pp. 90-103. Special section: Geographies of 15-M: crisis, austerity and social movements in Spain.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2015) Urbanism and dictatorship: perspectives from the field of urban studies, in M. Welch Guerra, H. Bodenschatz and P. Sassi, P. (eds.) Urbanism and Dictatorship. A European Perspective, Basel: Birkhäuser, pp. 27-35.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2014) Central Park y la producción del espacio público: el uso de la ciudad y la regulación del comportamiento urbano en la historia, Revista EURE – Revista De Estudios Urbano Regionales 40, pp. 55-74.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A.  (2014) Central Park against the streets: the enclosure of public space cultures in mid-nineteenth century New York, Social & Cultural Geography 15, pp. 151-171.

Sevilla Buitrago, A. (2014) Hegemonía, gubernamentalidad, territorio. Apuntes metodológicos para una historia social de la planificación, Empiria. Revista de Metodología de Ciencias Sociales 27, pp. 49-72.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2013) Urbs in rure: historical enclosure and the extended urbanization of the countryside, in N. Brenner (ed.), Implosions / Explosions. Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization, Berlin: Jovis, pp. 236-259.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2013) Debating contemporary urban conflicts: A survey of selected scholars, Cities 31, pp. 454–468.

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2012) Territory and the governmentalisation of social reproduction: parliamentary enclosure and spatial rationalities in the transition from feudalism to capitalism, Journal of Historical Geography 38, pp. 209–219.

Elden, S., Gregory, D., and Sevilla-Buitrago, A. (2011) Spaces of the Past, Histories of the Present: An Interview with Stuart Elden and Derek Gregory, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 10:2, pp. 313-339.



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Álvaro in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, during the demonstrations of May 2011.