Exclusionary Policies are Not Just about the ‘Neoliberal City’: A Critique of Theories of Urban Revanchism and the Case of Rotterdam


Exclusionary urban policies have repeatedly been interpreted as ‘urban revanchism’— strategies aimed at attracting gentrifiers and tourists at the expense of marginal and minority groups. This article scrutinizes the claim that exclusionary policies are driven by economic insecurities and motives to attract capital. Rotterdam serves as an extreme case through which I examine who supports exclusionary policies, and for what reasons. The case study shows that urban policies are intertwined with ideas about multiculturalism and integration. This suggests that concerns about national unity also play a role, and that de‐concentration (and creating mixed neighbourhoods) is, like citizenship, a strategy for inclusion, which, in effect, logically excludes people. I argue that insecurities that stem from concerns about national unity and demands for social order should be acknowledged as additional drivers of exclusionary policies and the latter cannot be reduced to economic motives. I conclude that current theories of urban revanchism need to incorporate a more complex notion of ‘safety’ and of ways in which insecurities produce strategies of exclusion and inclusion.