Postcolonializing Berlin and the Fabrication of the Urban


Postcolonializing Berlin is an experiment in rethinking (Western) cities from the South. It embraces conceptual innovations from thinkers in African, Latin American and Asian urban studies to complicate the stories we tell about contemporary Berlin. My argument proceeds in four steps. I begin by asking what makes the North–South division in urban studies so problematic, and what needs to happen to shake up those categories. Then I share some of my own trials and errors in looking at Berlin-Neukölln through the lens of ‘the South’, before offering an alternative frame, which I call ‘urban fabricating’, as a way of inquiring into and perceiving changing urban settings. In the final part, gambling parlours in Berlin-Neukölln move into focus, where different forms of fabrication are at work: the regeneration officials’ vision for the future of the neighbourhood, the inspectors’ improvisations on the casino law, and the casino owners’ ways of muddling through at the edges of the law. Rather than searching for the one new theory to shake up urban studies, fabricating is, I suggest, an unagitated approach to the actual processes through which cities are made.