Neil Brenner, Liquidation Conference, Zagreb, April 2014
The "city" has become a major focal point--both a site and a stake--of intense social, political and ecological struggles. Such struggles are powerfully mediated through urban ideologies that attempt to naturalize or normalize the profoundly unequal power relations and destructive socio-ecological arrangements upon which everyday city life and worldwide urbanization processes are grounded. One of the key tasks of critical urban theory is to illuminate the origins, operations and implications of such ideologies and, in so doing, to help construct alternative vocabularies and cartographies that might facilitate new forms of urbanism based upon radical-democratic empowerment, sociospatial justice and ecological rationality. This lecture surveys the role of urban ideologies in contemporary capitalism and outlines various ways in which the methodological orientations, historical-geographical metanarratives and normative-political agendas of critical urban theory might destabilize and transcend them. Building upon collaborative work with Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore, the lecture concludes by relating this approach to contemporary debates on neoliberal urbanism.