Displacing Urban Nature: Visual Tools of Post-Socialist Neoliberal Urban Planning

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Petr GIBAS, Sociological Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
Irena BOUMOVÁ, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
Nature is indisputably an inherent part of the city. However, the production of urban nature represents a political-ecological process embedded in a complex web of relationships and predicated on as well as productive of specific, context-bound power relations. In this paper, we analyse changes in the production of urban nature brought about by the fall of socialism and the nascent of post-socialist neoliberal governance in Prague, the Czech Republic. We disentangle the power relations in behind the planning of urban nature in Prague and explore how they have shifted after the fall of socialism in 1989 and what has contributed to their present form. We conceive of land use plans as tools to implement urban policies, which have been changing along with the ideas about urban planning, its supposed role in governance and form since the end of the WWII. The changes concerned the visual properties, content and focus of the plans. We focus on the changing visual properties of Prague land-use plans and the ways they categorised, ordered and represented urban nature. We link the changes to how urban nature features in land-use plans to profound changes in terms of urban planning and its understanding of urban nature. Based on the (visual) analysis, we argue that after the fall of socialism land-use plans became tools to represent and introduce particular ideas about urban space heavily influenced by neoliberalism and led to a production of a highly unjust and uneven cityscape by means of massive displacement and remodelling of spaces of urban nature.