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Cosmopolis Lunch Seminar with Linus Vanhellemont (Visiting PhD Researcher Milano Bicocca)

20 April 2017 , Department of Geography, room F4.66, 12.00 -13.00

The Power of Imaginaries in Urban Planning Processes. The case of the Taksim-Gezi development in Istanbul & “the Piétonnier” in Brussels.

Seventeen years ago John Friedmann argued that the ambivalence about power is one of the biggest problems in theorizing and understanding urban planning processes. He contended that this ambivalence exists in all major schools of planning thought and encouraged planning researchers “to ponder the question of power with a point of departure in what is actually happening in city politics and planning, as opposed to what we normatively would like to see happen” (1998). More recently, Enrico Gualini echoed his statement arguing that the ambivalence about power still characterizes much of the planning literature today (2015). In his PhD and in this seminar Linus Vanhellemont asks therefore once again how the power relations function in urban planning processes and he argues that one key element has remained absent or at least underdeveloped, namely the role of imaginaries in the planning process. Based on a review of the literature in urban planning, sociology- and geography of the imaginary, as well as two elaborate case studies in Brussels and Istanbul, he argues that imaginaries have indeed a powerful role in the urban planning process and discusses how they have played their part in both cases.