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TU Berlin

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Manuel Lutz


Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS)
TU Berlin
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, TEL 3-0
10587 Berlin


(working) title: Homeless encampments in the US - moves for survival and self-determination in the context of urban post-welfare management of the poor.

The dissertation addresses the urban (financial) crisis that produced again a rise in homelessness that culminates in the surge of tent cities all over the US. More and more people are forced to find a place in cities they can't afford anymore while home foreclosures are at an all-time high. In this context I explore homeless struggles to cope with and resist the crisis collectively and the yet little researched urban policies around homeless encampments. Aside from well known revanchist municipal policies of denial and repression of homeless survival more tolerating or lenient responses can be observed. In face of inadequate shelter provision, continued policing of the poor and rising poverty civil society organisations and (local) state officials struggle over the accommodation of the poor and (semi-)formalization of safe zones for the homeless. Homeless activists and advocates demand decriminalization of tent cities where homeless may self-manage their shelter as immediate response to the urban crisis in homeless management. Without doubt cost-effective and reminiscent to the historical enclosure and banishment of the poor such local sanctions are highly contested as they reshape not only the existing institutional and ideological frame of homelessness policies but touch upon the hegemonic socio-spatial order of propertied citizenship, too. However, while still marginal and fought for, sanctioned tent cities are growing phenomena and not only homeless but the underhoused in cars and RVs are affected by similar policies that often predate the economic crisis of 2008. Increasingly exchanged inter-locally there is today a variety of regulatory arrangements for homeless "camping" that are to different degrees law complying and considered successful by authorities, the public and residents. Mapping different examples in the Pacific West and questioning rationales and practices of state officials, non-profit organisations, advocacy organisations and homeless activists involved the research focuses on the question of how and why i.e. tent cities are regulated. What does this shift imply for urban futures in advanced capitalist city development?  

The dissertation responds to a recent call for more nuanced analysis of the local state and its homeless management. Drawing from state theory and governmentality studies allows navigating between generalized and idealist accounts of e.g. punitive local state and e.g. benevolent civil society. I understand struggles over sanction of tent cities as local field of regulatory experimentation where survival of the poor resonates with the restructuring of the welfare state. Together the competing and contradictory rationales produce new forms and spaces of homeless management. The hypothesis is that this socio-spatial regulation of the poor extends to the formerly illegalized margins and highly selectively integrates self-organizing capacities of the homeless to compensate insufficient shelter provision and to reproduce social and spatial stratification by social control. Identifying inter-local patterns of strategic selectivity in the regulation of tent cities the dissertation assesses (i) whether we have to reckon with further legalisations of tent cities as a precarious precondition for a post-welfare regime of substandard subsistence which is less an interim "stepping stone" for the homeless but rather a permanent "waiting room for housing", and (ii) whether tent cities as emancipatory and collective practice of taking back the land can counter the depredations of neoliberalization and further the struggle for the right to the city i.e. housing.

Curriculum Vitae


Doctoral Student and DFG-Fellow at the Transatlantic Graduate Research Program, Center for Metropolitan Studies, TU Berlin

Diploma in Spatial Planning: "Spaces of Difference -  the spatialization of mobile and unconventional forms of housing. An examination of Bauwagenplätze and urban development in Freiburg, Breisgau" (supervised by Prof. Ruth Becker and Dr. Nina Schuster)

1999 - 2008
Studies of Spatial Planning, Technical University Dortmund

Oct. 2004 - March 2005   
DAAD funded research at Rostov State University in Rostov on Don, Russia

Aug. 2002 - April 2003       
CANEUX funded studies at York University Toronto (FES), Canada  


Apr. 2006 - Mar. 2007
Assistant for the project „WISIONS of Sustainability" at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Research Group I „Future Energy and Mobility Structures

Oct. 2003 - July 2004
Tutor for student project at the Institute for Spatial Planning, Technical University Dortmund

Nov. 2001 - July 2002       
Research assistant at the BMBF research project „Städteregion Ruhr 2030", Institute for Spatial Planning, Technical University Dortmund  

Oct. 1998 - Mar. 1999      
traineeship at ABM - Knorr architects in Stuttgart-Feuerbach

Publications, Lectures etc.


“Planungskultur in Russland, Rostow am Don [Planning culture in Russia, Rostow on Don]”. In: Mertens, Indra/ Usunov, Katja (Hg.): Im Ausland plant man anders – Planungskultur im internationalen Vergleich. Institut für Raumplanung. Universität Dortmund. Dortmund. (with Tino Buchholz)

„Whose city? – German Wagenplätze and the Right to the City”. In: Busà, Alessandro (Hg.): The Urban Reinventors. Issue 3, September 2008

„Planning Urban Segregation?“ In: Raumplanung 129/. Dortmund: 280-282. (with Tino Buchholz)

„Räumliche Szenarien für die Ruhrstadt 2030 [Spatial scenarios for the Ruhr city 2030]“. Dortmunder Beiträge zur Raumplanung. Projekte 24. IRPUD. Dortmund. (co-editor) www.raumplanung.uni-dortmund.de/pz/download/Plakatf13_02_engl.pdf


“Gentrifizierung. Ein umstrittener Begriff für eine umstrittene Stadtentwicklung“ presentation given to „Links im dialog & Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung NRW“ May 5 in Siegen.

“What right to the city? German Wagenplaetze and the quest for a “space of true pleasure”
presentation given to UNESCO chair of Urban politics and citizenship at the University of Lyon "The Empowerment of civil society in urban policies” October 31 - November 2 in Porquerolles/ France.

„Lefebvre und aktuelle städtische Kämpfe - International squatter days in April 2008“ presentation (with Tino Buchholz) at the workshop "Lefebvre total - workshop für ein kohärentes Lefebvre Verständnis" July 11-12 at the CMS, TU Berlin (organized with Anne Vogelpohl).

”Space - some notions on the production of space and implications for artistic and political interventions” presentation at the workshop „Internationale Theater Universität“ May 3 at Viadrina University, Frankfurt/Oder.

“Erfolge und Instrumentalisierung von städtischen sozialen Bewegungen“ presentation at the BUKO conference „The Right to the City - Soziale Kämpfe in der neoliberalen Stadt“ April 11-13 in Berlin (co-organized with members of the AK Stadt/Raum)

“Queer city Cologne” workshop organized for the 16. INURA Conference "Towards the Shareholder City" June 29 to July 5 in Essen/ Ruhr (co-organized with Inura Ruhr).

”The Growth Turn – a Guideline to the Perception of Urban Growth from different angles” presentation at the 9. International PlaNet Congress "option: growth?" July 24 – 30 in Hamburg (with Tino Buchholz)

”Cultures of Access in Rostov on Don” presentation at the 15. INURA Conference "Contested/ing Rights" June 24 – 30. Juni 2005 in Rome/ Collevecchio (with Tino Buchholz)

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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