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Contribution by professor Eric Clark, Head of Institute for Social and Economic Geography at University of Lund in Sweden and member of the Realdanaia Center for Strategic urban Research.
Gaps in the political economy of Christianian land – Christiania as a space of hope
Grasping – and consequently countering – the pressures Christiania has faced in recent years calls for sober analyses of the situation of Christianian land in the political economy of capitalist space. What processes generate the enormous rent gaps on Christianian land, constitutive of the pressure from centers of financial power to ‘renew’ and ‘regenerate’ the area (euphemisms for topocidal gentrification)? How do ‘value gaps’ between forms of housing tenure enter into the space war over Christiania? What such analyses may reveal of strategic value for the ongoing struggle over Christiania will be briefly outlined, before turning to issues surrounding what research into the Christiania resistance against these pressures may contribute to understanding not how the capitalist space economy actually works, but how it can be changed into something else. Is Christiania a space of hope?
Contribution by Dr. Jamie Stapleton, Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck School of Law in London.
‘The Washington Consensus’ is central to the phase of economic globalisation that has increasingly shaped global political economy since the early 1970s. It's central presumptions, that the institutions of private property, competition and free markets are the ‘natural’ underlying drivers of socio-economic organisation, now go largely unchallenged. However, as an earlier generation of economists recognised, the concept of property, markets and competition used in economic discourse are theoretical entities abstracted from everyday experience. Jaime Stapleton’s research examines the practice of ‘ownership’ in Christiania, and applies such operations to reframe widely held assumptions about the nature of property and competition.
In this analysis, a socially-located ‘sense of ownership’ is maintained in the absence of a formal legal title to property. Under these conditions, he suggests, personal expression is granted far greater latitude, raising the possibility that, far from facilitating the development of creativity and innovation, private property may, in certain instances, act as a limit on creativity and innovation. Such an analysis also suggests natural limits to the prevailing view that socio-cultural activities can be measured and effectively evaluated with reference to economic and statistical instruments. On such a view, current prescriptions relating to cultural policy can be viewed as a break on cultural development.
Finally, this theoretical analysis of Christiania examines the limits of prevailing assumptions about the nature of competition. The forms of socio-cultural competition that can be said to operate in Christiania are very different from the ‘Malthusian view’ – the fight to the death over scare resources – that characteristics competition in neo-liberal economic theory. In conclusion, Stapleton suggests counter-intuitively, that, in the absence of formal property rights, a form of ‘conspicuous cultural production’ prevails in Christiania that can be viewed as the silent shadow of the ‘conspicuous consumption’ that is characteristic market economies.