Publication: If neoliberalism is everything, maybe is it nothing? Questioning neoliberal ideology in spatial policies and projects
Neoliberalism is held to be the dominant and pervasive economic policy agenda of our times, a powerful and expansive political rationality of class domination and exploitation, the manifestation of ‘capital resurgent’. Anderson describes it as ‘the most successful ideology in world history’ (Anderson 2000, 17). This paper tries to demonstrate how the new development project Milano Sesto in the metropolitan city of Milan, Italy – an ongoing large-scale development project of housing, retail, offices, and public services, symbolically built on former Falck steelwork industrial areas – can’t be understood as one of the embodiment of current pervasive neoliberal planning practice of the Western societies. Using this example, it is argued that contemporary transformation projects – and in particular large scale urban development projects – are the epitome of a set of contradictory processes, but cannot be understood as an example of ‘actually existing neoliberalism’. North East Milan is a particularly complex spatial context, one of the former heartlands of western European Fordism which experienced a significant level of deindustrialization and a reconfiguration of production at the local scale, with the crisis of the Fordist mass production system. In the ‘90s, North East Milan was also subject to an intensive process of tertiarization, triggered by decline in the manufacturing sector and exacerbating some of the structural change processes already initiated in previous years. With a densely populated and infrastructure territory, North East Milan is currently facing a second round of economic restructuring following the economic shock caused by the global financial crisis in 2008.The paper reflects the change of an established sector of the urban region to grasp the socio spatial relation and dynamics that characterized the geography of North East Milan during three main, intertwined, phases of capitalist development: - the long phase of growth and urban expansion; - the season of the Fordist crisis and the subsequent economic restructuring; - the current cycle of economic and spatial shrinkage after the 2008 global crisis. The paper analyses the different construction processes and treatment of problems that define the space of public policies and private transformation projects, questioning if it can be identified as neoliberal planning project.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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