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Department of Land Economy

Environment, Law & Economics


Joanna Kusiak is a Junior Research Fellow in Urban Studies at King’s College, Cambridge University

About the Speaker

Joanna is an interdisciplinary researcher focusing on land, property and the role that legal technicalities play in shaping our cities. She is finalizing a book based on her PhD, titled The Orders of Chaos: Law, Land and Neoliberal Globalization in Warsaw. Her next project follows urban legal activism in its attempts to reinvent urban property regimes on more egalitarian terms, including new forms of democratic expropriation. She also investigates the feasibility of progressive, quasi-Machiavellian approaches to co-opting neoliberal urban systems. While her research is not confined to any region, Joanna is especially committed – as an activist and as an architecture/urban critic – to the cities of Warsaw and Berlin. Ultimately, her work seeks to rebuild the constructive capacity of critical urban studies – a capacity that, since the failure of modernism, has been largely lost


‘We are high-risk capital!’ – that’s one of the campaign statements with which Berlin tenant movements hope to repel real-estate investment. It turns out that it is also – at least partly – true. Indeed, in June 2019, the stocks of a housing corporation, Deutsche Wohnen, lost approx. 20% after the Berlin municipal government – prompted by pressure from the tenant movements – announced a five-year rental freeze. At the same time, other activists are in the process of organizing a referendum that seeks to turn corporate housing into social ownership. My paper analyses the field of forces created by radical tenant initiatives in Berlin through an investigation at the intersection of law, political economy and grassroots politics. Can state law, under globalization, still be used as a tool for socio-economic emancipation? What is the relationship between economic risk and democratic politics?




Wednesday, 20 November, 2019 - 16:00 to 17:00
Event location: 
Mill Lane Lecture Room 9