Ab _ ABOUT

CMMM is a practice-oriented research project that is designed to support existing civil society movements in their struggle for profound transformation towards more just societies and cities. It believes that real change requires reshuffling existing power relations, which is what many on-the-ground mobilisers are trying to do. While there are many tools being developed and employed, in this project we focus on the tool of Critical Mapping (CM) which we consider an ‘act of power’. 

The  ongoing democratization of mapping through new technologies is deconstructing it as an elitist instrument for the ‘few’ and making it available to the ‘many’ as a possible tool for (self-)empowerment. With this in mind, the project will analyze and test the transformative potential of CM in relation to the growing phenomenon of socio-political mobilization in urban areas and what in Europe is coming to be known as the New  Municipalist Movement. We want to interrogate the emancipatory claims, methods, and impacts through collaborative activities and on-field comparative research in three cities: Barcelona, Belgrade and Berlin. Along the course of the project we will work to build transdisciplinary and transnational spaces for alliances among decentralized and fragmented mapping activities with the mission to find connections and loopholes. More specifically, we want to investigate how maps contest and re-shape urban resource flows and the unjust distribution of services, (in)access and (non)opportunities, and how they challenge discriminative legislation.

In addition, we want to test the ability of mappings/ maps to give rise to coalition strategies for urban mobilisers within each context and across geographies.

We understand critical mappings and maps within the broader definition of the term, to be encompassing of various kinds of visualizations and the processes that labor them (i.e. not only the ‘output’). From this perspective, over the three years between 2020 – 2022, our team which composes of activists and researchers in Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin and at K LAB (click here to view Team)  will be working on two parallel levels: 

A. Develop methodologies for, and test critical mappings that would support the agenda setting of activists and collectives, initiatives and civil organizations that are involved in struggles around the topic of the ‘Right to Housing’, and therewith support actual work, claim-making and -communication; and, 

B. Document and reflect on whether and how the employment of these critical mappings helped in contesting and re-shaping the above-mentioned urban resource flows, unjust distribution of services, (in)access and (non)opportunities, discriminate legislation, and whether they helped to give rise to coalition strategies and connections for urban mobilisers within and across geographies, be those our interrogated 3 cities or beyond.

WHY HOUSING?

We decided on ‘Housing’ as our thematic entry point for this project because it is one of the central struggles that Barcelona, Belgrade and Berlin have in common, and because it currently has momentum to mobilize people in a political struggle. We understand ‘Housing’ as a broad term that goes beyond ‘having a shelter’ and encompasses the worriment about everyday sustenance for people. As a framework it brings together aspects of infrastructure, education, access to non-monetized/-commercialized spaces of socialization (which is as central to mental health as water and clean air), and therewith spaces that cater for just and secure social production and reproduction. By extension, the term could also include spaces of labor and production. Under this central theme some of the comparative lines we see at the moment are the issue of “burdening of housing” (how much of a person’s income is spent on housing); the issue of evictions (active and passive models); the issue of touristification of the city; and, the issue of how the growing challenges related to housing trigger (ed) and form (ed) the collectives and initiatives working on alternatives in the 3 cities. 

 

Therewith, we want to address the global scale and the links between happenings in Barcelona, Belgrade and Berlin and the issue of the international financialization of housing markets (real estate having become a prime object of speculation by international corporations), and the resulting interconnected global patterns – e.g. of everyday investments by people; how they are moving; the interconnectedness of struggles and emerging kinds of networks of socio-political movements; etc. Therefrom, we will try to understand what is missing in this picture and think of ways to address it through our activities within the CMMM project and with our network of collaborators. The translations of our approach to ‘Housing’ and the shape of CMMM activities will surely differ in each of the cities depending on local specificities and in response to unfolding events. For more information on how each of the City Teams is approaching this common theme please check the Cities page.

This project is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, under the program “SPIELRAUM – Urbane Transformationen gestalten”.