TU Berlin

Center for Metropolitan StudiesVollmer, Lisa

CMS Logo

Page Content

to Navigation

Lisa Vollmer


Research Assistant, Bauhaus University Weimar


The Formation of Political Subjects: Tenant Protest in Berlin and New York

The housing markets of Berlin and New York consist primarily of tenements. The impacts of the financial crisis, since 2007, on the urban real estate markets of the two cities were quite different. In New York, the bursting of the real estate bubble and the extraction of global capital led to numerous foreclosures, which put additional pressure on the already groaning housing market. In contrast, Berlin has become the haven for global capital investments in real estate since the financial crisis. However, the outcome for the tenants of both cities was similar: sky rocketing rents and worsening living conditions. The crisis made existing inequalities, which derive from years of neoliberal urban politics and the growing wage gap, visible and triggered new forms of activism in regard to housing.

These protests are the focus of my dissertation project. In both cities, a variety of protest groups have emerged during the last years. These groups form new coalitions among individuals, based on their shared interests as tenants. First, my research aims to explore the potential, in being ‘a tenant’, for collectivization and processes of group constitution. The current tenant protests will be analyzed against the backdrop of historically changing forms of collectivization since the labor movement.

Second, the ways in which tenants transcend beyond their personal interests and on to a political understanding of their actions (i.e. theoretically they are revisiting the assumed dichotomy between personal interest and (constructions of) the common good) will be analyzed. On this basis, the subject positions of the activists and groups will be reconstructed to understand how they understand themselves as political subjects. Reactions on the part of the media and political representatives will be analyzed to determine how the activists and groups are recognized as political actors from the outside.

Subsequently, the comparative case study analysis aims to contribute to concepts of social movements by applying theories of the political and subjectivation.


EDUCATION 09/2017 - now
Postdoc, Institut für Europäische Urbanistik, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

05/2015 - 08/2017
wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Professur Stadtplanung, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

05/2012 - 05/2015
DFG Fellow at the International Graduate Research Program, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin, Germany

Master Degree in Historical Urban Studies, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin
Master Thesis: Social Movements as new Political Actors. The Berlin Tenant Movement 1872-1932

Summer Semester 2012
Fellow of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation)

January 2011 – May 2012
Student research assistant, Prof. Dr. Georg Wagner-Kyora, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin

Bachelor Degree in Art Theory and Cultural Theory, Universität Bremen
Bachelor Thesis: Public Urban Space in the Migration Society

Summer Semester 2009 and 2010
Student research assistant, Prof. Dr. Irene Nierhaus, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft, Universität Bremen

Fall Semester 2009/2010
Erasmus Scholarship, Middle East Technical University, Department of Architecture, Ankara


Since 05/2015
Research Assistant, Bauhaus University Weimar


Die Mieter_innenbewegung in Berlin zwischen lokalen Konflikten und globalen Widersprüchen
, in: Sozial.Geschichte online, Heft 17, 2015, S.51-82

Lisa Vollmer (2105): Städtische soziale Bewegungen und Geschichte: Wenn „das Alte stirbt, und das Neue nicht zur Welt kommen kann“ (Gramsci (2012 [1929ff.]): H.3, §34,354) Rezension zu Armin Kuhns „Vom Häuserkampf zur neoliberalen Stadt. Besetzungsbewegungen und Stadterneuerung in Berlin und Barcelona“, in: sub/urban. Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung, Bd.3, Heft 1, 2015

Lisa Vollmer (2014): Anfänge der Berliner Mieter_innenbewegung 1872-1932, Die Entstehung der Berliner Mieter_innenbewegungVom Krawall zu Mieter_innenbewegung: Ziehtage und ZwangsräumungenMietervereine: Zwischen Rechtsberatung und Politisierung, für: Austellung "Kämpfende Hütten. Urbane Proteste von 1872 bis heute"

Lisa Vollmer (2014); Politische Subjekte. Rezension zu Imogen Tylers „Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain", in: sub/urban. Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung, Bd.2, Heft 1, 2014

Lisa Vollmer (2014): Der Mietenprotest ist existentiell, Interview von Patricia Hecht in die tageszeitung, 08.01.2014

Lisa Vollmer (2013): Zwischen Partikularismus und Universalismus. Wie bilden sich Koalitionen? Kommentar zu Margit Mayers „Urbane Soziale Bewegungen in der neoliberalisierenden Stadt“, in: sub/urban. Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung, Bd.1, Heft 1, 2013

Lisa Vollmer (2013): Mieterstadt New York, in: Mieterecho 359, April 2013

Lisa Vollmer (2011) in: Dagmar Thorau/Gernot Schaulinski (Hrsg.):Geschichtsspeicher Fichtebunker, Berliner Unterwelten, Berlin 2011:

Auf der Überholspur. Berlin im 19.Jahrhundert, S.24-27
Im Bunker der Hoffnungslosen. Zwischennutzungen 1945-1963, S.50-57
Denkmal und Erbe. Gespräch mit Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper und Dietmar Arnold, S.88-91


Political Collectivity Beyond Identity – New Forms of Tenant Protest in Berlin and New York, presented at the conference "Challenging Collectivities", Frabkfurt/Main, October 29th-31st 2015

The Formation of Political Subjects
, presented at the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology “Facing an Unequal World”, Yokohama, Japan, July 13th-19th 2014

Legitimizing the Right to Stay Put
References to Migrant History in Tenant Protest in Berlin and New York, presented at the Annual Graduate Conference of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Central European University “Im/Mobilizing In/Equalities: Migration and Marginality in Times of Crisis”, June 27th and 28th 2013

What does it mean to act 'political'? The Tenant Movement in Berlin 1872-1932
, presented at the First Annual Conference of the International Graduate Research Program "Urban–Activism–Scholarship: Global Discourses in Local, Historical and Contemporary Contexts", Berlin, November 2nd and 3rd, 2012

Mieterstadt New York
, presented in the lecture series “Wohnen in der Krise. Neoliberalismus – Kämpfe – Perspektiven“, February 7th 2013

Tenant Mobilization and the Left – Berlin 1872-1932
, presented at the conference “Crisis and Mobilization since 1789”, Amsterdam, February 22nd-24th 2013


April-July 2013
New York / USA
(Interviews, Participatory Observation)

September 2012
New York / USA
(Exploring the Field)


Quick Access

Schnellnavigation zur Seite über Nummerneingabe