Miguel Robles-Duran

Last December 17th marked the one- year anniversary of Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in a desperate act of protest, a human spark that triggered a world uprising of historical proportion. In different forms, the Icelanders, Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Greeks, Spanish, Italians, British, Americans, and now Russians -to mention a few- have taken to the streets with numerous itinerant mass civilian mobilizations against the neoliberal apparatus and the global economic catastrophe it produced, declaring the urban realm as its field of action. Hidden beneath decades of market-driven urban practices, another way of practicing is defiantly emerging as part of the global uprise; from the living-death ruins of post-modernity, small groups of radical urban practices, which for years managed to resist and operate outside the crisp disciplinary boundaries occupied by capitalism, have slowly begun to collectively envision the organizational and material form of a brand new parallel urban world I was hinting at, a few paragraphs above. This points histrionically to a new kind of paradigm, the bifurcation of centuries-old disciplinary lines; one that will undoubtedly continue to demand classical practitioners to fulfill the representational needs and wants of the capitalist establishment and another that will construct a very different type of trans-disciplinary practice concerned with the production of the new parallel urban world. The talk will focus on the slow dialectical development of this new paradigm.

Robles Duran is an urbanist and Director of the Urban Ecologies graduate program at the New School/Parsons in New York, Senior fellow at “Civic City”, a post-graduate design/research program based in HEAD Geneva, Switzerland and cofounder of “Cohabitation Strategies”, an international non-profit cooperative for socio-spatial development based in New York and Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Miguel Robles-Duran has wide international experience in the strategic definition/coordination of trans-disciplinary urban projects, as well as in the development tactical design strategies and civic engagement platforms that confront the contradictions of neoliberal urbanization. He recently co-edited/authored the book “Urban Asymmetries: Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization” that reviews the dire consequences that neoliberal urban policies have had upon the city and discusses possible alternatives to market-driven development. Robles-Duran’s areas of specialization are design/research interventions and strategies in uneven urbanization and areas of social urban conflict, urban political-economy and urban theory.

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