Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies | Access & Control: Urban Public Space and Heritage in an Age of Securitization

Access & Control: Urban Public Space and Heritage in an Age of Securitization



This workshop seeks to look in depth into cases where access, heritage, and security converge to remake urban public spaces, and by extension, the city itself. To do so, it looks at the relation between access and control, a relationship that has become all the more salient in an era marked by heightened levels of concern with terrorism, climate disaster, urban protest, inequality, and enhanced surveillance technologies. This workshop investigates the fraught relation between urban public space, heritage and new practices of “security.”

In the last decade public urban space acquired a renewed urgency for the practice and performance of contemporary politics, from Kiev to Cairo, from Hong Kong to Istanbul: this includes securitization of urban public space, from smart CCTV sensors to limited accessibility to streets, plazas, and buildings. This raises difficult questions especially for urban heritage sites, whose historical and symbolic meanings put them at heightened risk for terrorism and other forms of defacement, while also playing an increasingly important role in the image of cities as they compete for tourism and talent in the future economies.

The workshop in Berlin, initiated by the International Research Network TACT, aims (1) to theoretically frame the relation between heritage, urban public space and securitization with the help of the concept of “access” and (2) develop case studies for a draft proposal for an international research project on this subject. To do so, it seeks participants interested in addressing key questions about the relation of control and access to public spaces and so to heritage sites in the name of security. These include the following main questions:

  • How do practices of securitization impact public use and accessibility for established public spaces and heritage sites?
  • How do specific forms of security (e.g. checkpoints, barriers, security protocols) affect the perception and symbolism of public and heritage spaces?
  • How does the securitization influence the community involvement relevant in heritage and urban development?

Moreover, the main object of the workshop is to theorize the concept of “access” in the context of the right to the city, both in terms of physical access, as a question of security, and symbolic access, as a question of politics and identity based on the leading questions and the connected case studies.

We would like to say thank you to the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation for supporting this event.


See full workshop programm here (PDF).



Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies / Humboldt University of
Berlin, Mohrenstr 41, 4th Floor, Room 418


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