Capital and the City_ June 21 – 25, Belgrade 2017

With the topic “Capital and the City” this years’ meeting of European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City delves into the connection between the city and the economic powers that increasingly seek to plunder it. In particular, we look at the position of housing and large urban development agendas in this, having become among the main processes driving contemporary global capitalism.

Where cities are for most a home, for some they are investment vehicles. That in itself is nothing new, but the degree to which we, the inhabitants, are becoming subjected to this is unprecedented. And as to be expected, this leads to extreme excesses on both sides of exploitative reality.

On the one side, we can recognise how inhabitants over the years have become increasingly vulnerable in sustaining their housing situation – with the devastating impact of mortgage defaults, evictions or even outright fraudulent expropriations, the lives of often the most defenceless have been ruined as result.

On the other side, we can witness a cloud of restless international capital hovering over our cities, seeking for investment opportunities in an increasingly nervous economic climate.

Over the last decade, most of the money “created” by private banks has been channelled into real-estate, rather than into “productive” parts of the economy. This results directly in higher housing prices and bubbles in financial markets. It may be clear that those investments are not made to provide their investors with a sustainable housing situation – rather, they create assets for which inhabitation has never been a priority. Empty shells of real-estate “excellence” in international investment schemes. For most of us, there is obviously no place in this market.

It is not accidental that this topic features prominently at the meeting in Belgrade. Not only a trajectory of over 25 years of manipulatively engineered economic crisis, poverty for large part of the population, but equally emerging business opportunities to a select number of individuals have created a playing field for devastating urban practices and forms of city development.


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