Logo Université François Rabelais


Sur ce site

Sur le Web du CNRS

logo MSH Val de Loire
logo INRAP

Accueil du site > Contrats > SPACEPOL : « Space And Politics : Capital Cities As Instruments Of Political Struggle And Power »


SPACEPOL : « Space And Politics : Capital Cities As Instruments Of Political Struggle And Power »

ANR conjointe équipes CoST et EMAM

par Muriel - 24 janvier 2022

Contrat débuté en 2022, achevé en 2026
Responsable : Gülçin Erdi

Autres participants CITERES : Bénédicte Florin, Roman Stadnicki, Denis Martouzet, Sibel Akyildiz, Laura Monfleur

Résumé :

This research project involves the international comparison of different capital cities to study the place and role of political power and global urban governance in the creation, making and development of capital cities as well as the impacts of grassroots claims and demands about urban and environmental design on these political processes. The following questions will constitute the core of our interrogation : how are the national imaginaries of capital cities forged by the spatial configuration of political symbols ? What are the conflictual and/or consensual relationships between different political actors in the conception of capital cities ? To what extent could the nature of the political regime have an important impact on this conception with regard to the highly competitive context of planetary urbanization ? What are the specific socio-political and economic flows among these countries and how do they in turn influence capital city building ? Finally, how is it possible to tackle the interactions between urban design policies and multiple societal and environmental advocacy programs, considering the growing importance of urban democracy in many countries and international agendas ?

Our main objective is to study, in a comparative manner, the production of capital cities according to three different but interconnected research themes :

  • 1- The spatial imagination and conception of capital cities by national political power and as a symbolic struggle of different political visions.
  • 2- The influence of global urban networks and the circulation of international models in urban development and urban space.
  • 3- The reciprocal impact between urbanisation policies in capital cities and various demands and protests from divergent actors concerning urban spaces and the environment.

In order to study these questions, we propose the cases of Ankara, Moscow, Tehran, Abu Dhabi, Nur-Sultan and Cairo. Our choice to focus on these capitals comes from the fact that the countries in which they are located are often present in the studies of international relations in terms of geopolitics, state and diplomatic relations but less in urban studies. The cities of the project are deliberately chosen as being situated in states perceived among an international community as relatively illiberal and non-democratic. We are interested in analysing how authoritarian governments express themselves spatially in the city. The existing scientific literature on this topic has focused primarily on the fixed staging of illiberal political power in political geography and geopolitics, and less has been said on the dynamics between the political regime and city design as well as the lived and perceived spaces in these cities.

The objective of the project will be to study firstly the capital building process as the image of nation and political regime and then to show the backdoor struggles and divergences between different actors in the symbolic construction of space via capital cities. Secondly, the project aims to study the relationship between the political power and the changing designs of the capital city from a comparative perspective focusing on actors involved in city making. Third, the project plans to focus on the different types of international engagement by these countries via their governmental bodies and their capital cities’ local governments and municipalities. Particular attention will be paid to the variations that emerge/appear in the analysis and explanation of global governance, as well as different perspectives on network governance and its different scales. In addition, international/transnational networking as the increasingly more widespread mode of governing will be examined. Finally, despite of authoritarian and top-down management of public policies in the selected countries, there are however many mobilisations and resistance flowering from the will of ordinary citizens to protect their everyday life spaces, health and sociabilities. The objective is to go beyond the macro-level approach of global urbanism and urban politics and to study their impacts in grassroots level and the socio-political reactions they may bring out from city dwellers in order to protect their everydaylife and environment.

Autre(s) laboratoire(s) participant(s) : UMR LAVUE, USR IFEA, USR CEDEJ, USR IFEAC, Russian Academy of Science/Institut of Geographie, Hacı Bayram Veli University, New York University of Abu Dhabi

- Séminaire organisé le 14 avril 2022 « Rethinking the role of the state in urban development and planning of Middle Eastern Cities, the case of Tehran », intervention de Azadeh Mashayekhi

- Séminaire organisé le 10-11 janvier 2023 "Space And Politics : Capital Cities As Instruments Of Political Struggle And Power", CEDEJ, Le Caire