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Anti Capitalist Interventions in Complex Urban Systems

Welcome to a presentation by urbanist and urban theorist Miguel Robles-Durán. He will present two initiatives and discuss the history, theories, research questions, interventions, and the challenges of working as an anti-capitalist in today’s government and urban development landscape.

Grounded in the theories of Karl Marx, David Harvey’s theory of Uneven Geographical Development, and his own revision of Unitary Urbanism, Miguel Robles-Durán co-founded Urban Front with David Harvey in 2019. Urban Front is a transnational consultancy that provides research, intelligence, and development support to progressive public and social sectors confronting critical urban complexities with a directive towards social and environmental justice. The organization has 21 members across North America, South America, and Europe and is currently developing three critical projects on housing, economy, governance, and culture with the governments of Mexico City, Rotterdam, and the Pichincha Province in Ecuador.

The Shape of Cities to Come Institute is a New York City based co-learning and strategizing platform for urban activism that brings together experienced and powerful movement builders from many different worlds to shape equitable, compassionate and just cities. The initiative is a response to the lack of spaces for knowledge production in this field and to confront the growing rise of the real estate state, displacement and homelessness; record-high commercial vacancies; omnipresent policing as catchall solution; environmental injustices of racial capitalism; inhumane immigration policies; historical under-investment in the cultural landscape of people of color and working-class neighbourhoods; inflation coupled with city budget cuts; and post-pandemic after-shocks of repressed mourning.

People sitting on the ground between two buildings

Coutesy of Cohabitation Strategies

Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge, Philadelphia.

The event is presented by IASPIS in collaboration with Solidaritetshuset and in conjunction to the launch of the book Social Movements in the 1980s Sweden. Contention in the Welfare State with contributions by Jenny Jansson, Katrin Uba, Dominika V. Polanska, Markus Lundström, Hannes Rolf and Helena Hill.
The book launch will be held in Swedish.

Miguel Robles-Durán is an urbanist, and Marxist urban theorist working at the intersections of urban political-ecology, unitary urbanism, and the design of just urban processes. He is a tenured Associate Professor of Urbanism at The New School / Parsons School of Design in New York City, and director of the graduate urban programs. Miguel Robles-Durán is founding partner and co-director of Urban Front, a transnational consultancy for urban justice that supports progressive governments across the globe develop programs that promote the right to the city. He is also a founding member of The Shape of Cities to Come Institute, a New York City based strategizing platform for urban activism. And co-founder together with David Harvey of Politics In Motion, an anti-capitalist media organization that hosts his podcast and YouTube program Cities After. Robles-Durán’s work with the design cooperative Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra) has had a significant global influence on socially-engaged forms of urban practice, and has been showcased in prestigious venues worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), MAK Museum Vienna, La Biennale di Venezia, Istanbul Design Biennial, Shenzhen Biennial, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Rotterdam Biennial, and Lisbon Architecture Triennial. He has co-authored the book Urban Asymmetries: Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization.