„When is a Neighbourhood a Neighbourhood?“

At this table our host Britta Elena Hecking is interested in discussing the place of youth within changing neigborhoods particularly in marginalized areas and in areas of urban development and renewal programs: How do neighborhood transformations or the eviction of neighbors impact the security arrangement of the young not only in regard to violence but also in regard to social securities (access to health and education, income and social capital).

Marginalized areas, which are often represented as ‚unsecure`, offer the young many (informal) securities, while the implication of security policies as well as the resettlement of families to other areas may not always offer the desired ‚securities‘. So‚ when is a neighborhood a neighborhood’ in times of increased mobility and disembedding? I argue that even though the everydaylife spaces of many people reach far belong the local neighborhood, and local rootedness may lose importance for many, ‚neighborhoods‘ continue being meaningful for many citizens in various ways but often in relation to their access to ressources and securities.  Perceived as ‚open places‘ (Massey), neighborhoods are constantly (re)produced by shared rhythms and practises and/or shared histories and belongings as well as interwined with processes of inclusion and exlusion in the city.


Britta Elena Hecking received her PhD at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig. In her dissertation on ‘Youth and Resistance in Algiers’ (transcript, forthcoming 2019) she analyzes how the socio-spatially ‘divided’ city was not only the location but also a trigger and reason for the upheavals in the history of Algiers. Based on the historical approach to youth as an actor of resistance in Algiers, she conducted ethnographic research to analyze the politics of everyday practices in urban spaces using the concept of ‘navigating’. Currently she is involved in a research project led by Prof. Dr. Jörg Gertel on the impact of youth on the making of Marseille (German title: Jugend Macht Marseille)  at the Institute of Geography, University of Leipzig. Since 2017, she is working with the organization Kreuzberger Initiative gegen Antisemitismus (KIgA e.V.) developing and implementing neighborhood orientated concepts of civic education.


When is a neighborhood a neighborhood? Or: What makes a neighborhood?

How are people anchored in certain neighborhoods – do they attach social values to their place of living, based on feelings of belonging? Is it an attachment to place, then, with which they identify, i.e. the architecture, or the parks of a given quarter, which generates a feeling of “home” which can create (imagined) community

Or are people connected to the structure of relationships and their social ties among residents in neighborhoods? Does this imply more frequent and more intimate contacts between neighbors? What is the role of ethnicity, religion or class in creating these types of rootedness in a neighborhood? How important are age, or the length of residence, or education? Do people who have immigrated to a neighborhood from abroad have a greater attachment to their new  neighborhood than people who have been born there? And which kind of attachment is more frequent in their case? And finally, in terms of space: what kind of attachment is generated by inner city neighborhoods? And, by contrast, in the outskirts of cities?


Birgit Schäbler is Professor of Middle East History at the University of Erfurt and since October 2017 director of the Orient-Insitute Beirut. She studied History, Islamic Studies and Political Science at the universities Würzburg, Erlangen and Berkeley, USA. She has held positions and fellowships at Erlangen University, Duke University, Harvard University and Georgia’s Public Liberal Arts University between 1997 and 2002, before returning to Germany. She founded the first trans-regional research platform in 2008 at the University of Erfurt. Her research interests include currently the relations between Area History and Global History, between the Middle East and Europe, and the concept of relational history in general, as well as the history of Orientalism and Oriental Studies in Germany, postcolonialism and the question of alterity in Middle Eastern societies from the 19th century to the present.


Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, focused on the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Our research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with different and independent fields of focus. Through our globally operating institutes, we are able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and our host countries or regions. By promoting academic dialogue and merging academic and non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the internationalization of research.

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