Author

Michael Kiel

Class Year

2014

Access Type

Vassar Community Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Earth Science and Geography Department

First Advisor

Mary Ann Cunningham

Abstract

Tempelhof, a field dating to Prussia and earlier, served the national socialists as an airport and site of oppression, as well as a lifeline for the allies in the iconic Berlin Airlift, bringing food to the residents of West Berlin as the East tried to starve them. Today, the Berlin government plans to build housing, business and commercial buildings on part of the field, which was turned into a park in 2008.

By utilizing memory-theory in my analysis of how places are made, I hope to demonstrate that such conflict and discourse indicate a healthy urban and cultural system. People's personal attachments to the space of Tempelhof contribute a perspective which sees the plans as pro-capital but anti-resident, resulting in the citizen's initiative to halt construction. I then investigate how urban social movements utilize their privilege of locality to fix certain perception of scale, so that they may achieve their aims as effectively as possible. Movements like Tempelhof 100%, rooted in specific places, structure themselves effectively when utilizing direct democracy to successfully challenge global, national or municipal powers.

Local residents organize under the name 'Tempelhof 100%,' proposing a multitude of reasons as to why the urban development project should not be allowed and have organized a popular referendum in order to have Berliners directly vote on the future of the park. Many residents of the city are unsatisfied with the extent to which the plans are participatory and vote to take a more direct role in democracy. The use of 'the right to the city' as a strategy for spatial activism in Berlin reveals the limitations of the academic concept as well as its strengths in promoting new discourse on right and justice in Germany.

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