Everyday life in Greek cities is undergoing profound transformations in the midst of the so-called “Greek crisis”. The repercussions of seven years of dogmatic neoliberal austerity policies mark the urban landscape through multiple lines of exclusion and precarity. While these policies and their implications have been widely discussed and criticized, however, relatively less attention has been paid on the emancipatory everyday politics unfolding in Greek cities. From makeshift markets ‘without middlemen’, through social solidarity health clinics, to co-operatives and self-managed workplaces, a multitude of urban socio-spatial experiments contest ‘austerity urbanism’ by opening urban political spaces and tracing alternative ways of collectively organising urban life.
Grounding its analysis on Thessaloniki this talk explores the entangled dynamics of austerity urbanism and urban (re-)politicization. Building on an understanding of politics as a process that unfolds in and through the opening of (urban) spaces, the talk argues that grassroots solidarity initiatives foreground a city of equality in, against and beyond the austere city. In doing so, the talk seeks to map the urban spaces and solidarities assembled through emancipatory politics and unpack some of the challenges and limitations they face in moving beyond the dominant ordering of the urban.
Lazaros Karaliotas is a lecturer in Urban Geography at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He is the Book Review and Social Media editor for Urban Studies and sits at the editorial advisory board of Soundings. Lazaros has worked as a Hallsworth Research Fellow at the School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester and as an Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. He holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Manchester. Lazaros’ work is situated at the intersection of debates around the urban and the political. More specifically, Lazaros draws from urban political economy, discourse theory and the political writings of Jacques Rancière to explore the dominant ordering of urban spaces as well as its contestation by urban uprisings and movements. His ongoing research project explores the proliferation of grassroots urban movements and solidarity networks in the midst of the “Greek crisis”. The project unpacks the political possibilities that such political experiments open up as well as the challenges and limitations they face in foregrounding and instituting emancipatory urban politics.