International Forum 17-19 June 2022
Czech Center, 100 G. S. Rakovski st., Sofia
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia is the country’s largest, fastest growing, and richest city. But behind this apparent success story lies a myriad of problems all too familiar to residents. Poor public infrastructure, dangerous air quality, a notorious deficit in kindergartens, a continuous encroachment on the city’s green areas, all significantly mar the quality of life in Sofia.
In recent years, some of these grave issues have been addressed by various NGOs and municipal organizations, mostly from an anti-corruption perspective. Yet, urban inequalities and their systemic sources are an overarching and multifaceted problem that has largely remained outside the scope of their ambitious efforts.
Other urban contexts besieged by the scourge of overdevelopment have developed progresive popular mobilizations such as Right to the City movements that led to victories for progressive forces in places like Zagreb. While this phase has largely been absent from Bulgaria, Bulgarian urban movements are nonetheless busy mobilizing to take power at municipal elections and this forum aims at buttressing their efforts.
With a city as diverse and unevenly developed as Sofia, a focus on inequality is mandatory to effectively – and equitably – tackle urban problems and pave the way to a governance model centered on social justice.
This is all the more pressing given current migration dynamics in a country like Bulgaria, which has seen significant population concentration in major cities, especially Sofia, driving depopulation outside of the capital. With 2023 local elections quickly approaching, it is all the more urgent to supplement the anti-corruption angle with a critique of political economy and offer viable ways toward more just and equitable socio-economic development of the city.
This three-day forum aims to enrich the understanding of urban problems in Sofia by offering critical perspectives to urban inequalities building on the achievements of local and international activists and researchers. Our scope scales from the national and regional contexts where the urban is nested and descales to the people weaving the urban fabric.
We bring together international and local urban activists, policymakers, architects, and academics to discuss topical issues in urban politics ranging from environmental inequalities, uneven access to municipal services and affordable housing, racial segregation, to how new public management reforms impact local inequalities.
|Friday, 17 June
|Saturday, 18 June
|Sunday, 19 June
|10.30 – 12.00
|Challenges and Perspectives Before Contemporary Urban Planning
Spatial Practices towards Instituting to Live Together
The Good and the Bad in Urban Planning: Challenges for Contemporary Cities
|The Neoliberal City
Suburbanizing Sofia: Characteristics of Post-socialist Urban Growth
Housing, Class, and Racialized Injustice in Contemporary Capitalism
Neoliberal Policy, Inequality and the Decline of Sofia’s Public Markets
|Designing Just Cities
How to Design a Fair Shared City?
Architecture Design Justice: Conceptualizing the Process for Fair Practices in Architecture and Architectural Education
Organizing for Justice:
Housing: a National Priority or a Financial Asset?
Tourism, Housing and home. Exploring the Socio-Spatial Inequalities of Airbnb in Sofia
Housing as the Cornerstone of Access to the City: Collaborative and Municipal Housing Pathways
Integration of People, Information, Processes, Resources
Public Services and Social Reproduction in the Neoliberal City: A Labor Perspective
|Decolonizing the City
Decolonizing the City? Traversing Urbanscapes in the World-Systemic Transperipheral Histories of Socialist Hungary and the Global South
Broken Solidarities: Visual Culture of the Non-Aligned Before and After 1989
|15.00 – 16.30
Remunicipalization of Public Goods and Services in Sofia – Is It Possible and at What Price?
The Future is Public – The road to Municipalism & Public Ownership
Stray Waters: Thermal Springs Between Luxury and Ruination
|Transportation and Air Quality
Air Quality for Whom?
Profit-Driven Urbanism and the Hidden Cost of Traffic Congestion
Infrastructural Barriers and Spatial Segregation
Racism-the Highest Stage of Anti-Communism
Contested Heritage: architecture, culture wars and contextualizing difficult pasts
Intimate Colonization and the City: From “Success” to the Good Life
Supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe.