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Contested Spatialities of Urban Neoliberalism: Dialogues between Emerging Spaces of Citizenship in Europe and Latin America

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Neoliberalism across continents

An EU study investigated the effects of neoliberal policies on local Latin American communities. Using innovative methods, the project examined gentrification, land conflicts and housing availability, while also fostering knowledge exchange.


Neoliberalism is a political ideology advocating limited government intervention, privatisation, deregulation and low government spending, so as to benefit the private sector. When applied to local politics, the ideology can result in conflict, yet little is known about the challenges citizens face under such policies. The EU-funded project CONTESTED_CITIES (Contested spatialities of urban neoliberalism: Dialogues between emerging spaces of citizenship in Europe and Latin America) investigated the topic further. It brought together scientists from European and Latin American universities to discuss some of the striking consequences of urban neoliberalism and the resistance that originated in different geographical backgrounds. The two-member consortium reviewed research on the processes of gentrification in Europe and Latin America. The study also examined conflict in neoliberal urban politics regarding reappropriation of land, emphasising the struggle for adequate housing and rights to the city. One research technique involved innovative qualitative methodologies such as reflexive photography. Additionally, the project fostered a knowledge exchange programme, intended to learn from Latin American cities and result in policy transfer. The project ran for four years to late 2016. Results from the first reporting period were detailed, in Spanish, on the project website. CONTESTED_CITIES created a network of practitioners, academics and social movements who widely interact through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It also published 44 journal publications, high impact factor articles, and participated in edited volumes and other independent publications. The research team also produced five ‘Working Paper Series’ with over 340 articles. The project work can provide a new understanding of opposition to neoliberal urban development. The results may also reflect developments in the current financial crisis.


Neoliberalism, gentrification, land conflicts, housing, CONTESTED_CITIES, Latin America

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