Planning Theory Lecture Series 2023

BEYOND ‘INVITED’ PARTICIPATION: practices of agonistic citizenship in urban transformation

14 June - 19 July 2023, Wednesdays 5:00–6:30 pm s.t. CEST 

The ideal and practice of citizens participation has long played a central role in the democratic understanding of urban planning processes. As such, however, participatory planning practices have always been contested in terms of the actual fulfilment of their promise of democracy. More recently, radical critique of 'invited spaces' for citizens involvement in the shaping of urban spaces has been backed by a reappraisal of agonism as defining dimension of democratic politics. As it views contention and conflict as necessary dimensions of democratic politics, this critical perspective reminds us not only of the fallibility and undecidability of participatory practices, but also of the emancipatory and transformative potential of agonistic engagement. Moving beyond protest and contestation, this critique is ever more often translated into forms of civic activism that 'invent' and reframe participation as agonistic engagement with creating alternatives.

This lecture series explores recent experiences sharing this generative and experimental attitude towards turning critique of 'invited' participation into new democratic alternatives. We analyse concepts adopted and pathways taken by these civic initiatives in addressing sustainable change and discuss their experience in establishing a productive if not unproblematic agonistic relationship with the institutional field of urban policy and planning. 

14.06 Place, power and participation: protracted conflicts and insurgent citizenship in planning processes, Donagh Horgan (Inholland University Rotterdam)

21.06 The right to public space in Madrid: sharing the space while learning how to do it, Cristina Braschi (Université Catholique de Louvain)

05.07 The Common as a mode of radical democratisation: public-common institutions in the European context, Iolanda Bianchi (University of Antwerp)

12.07 Beni comuni in Naples: processes of commoning in the interaction between self-governed spaces and the municipality, Gaia Pilia (VUB / ULB, Brussels)

19.07 Urban development via public-civic partnerships: forms of cooperation, controversies and modelling attempts, Felix Marlow and Rebecca Wall (HU Berlin)


Concept and organisation: Enrico Gualini and Nils Grube with Liliane Gottschalk and Emil Jung, Chair of Planning Theory and Urban-Regional Policy Analysis

All lectures online (via Zoom):

Meeting ID: 667 6812 3079