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Featured - Best Paper Prize

AM Journal

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Best Paper Prize Winner

The winner of the Best Paper Prize for the first edition of AMJournal is Hatem Hegab, for his essay The Strange and the Familiar. In this semi-personal essay Hatem explores urban change in Berlin.

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“poor, but sexy”

The post-Cold War adage, that the German capital is “poor, but sexy”, has beckoned in a new age of consumerism. In the same breath, and in light of multifarious crises across the Global South, a sizeable population of émigrés continue arriving to Berlin, the site of their ‘estrangement’.

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The 'silicon valley of Europe'

Simultaneously, and as Berlin is rapidly transforming into the ‘silicon valley of Europe’, urban change is making the city less habitable.

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How do we deal with urban change?

At this crossroads, one is starkly reminded that Berlin’s urban fabric is increasingly contingent on these crises elsewhere. Within this context, how can we readdress urban change in the city?

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Claims to the Past and Future

In this semi-personal essay, Hatem argues that, when the city is treated as a ‘heterotopia’, there remains no monopoly on the claim to its past and future. As the city’s future is mapped out, we are able to engage with the different political meanings and experiences attached to the city.

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In this essay Hatem uses 'heterotopia' to understand urban change within Berlin. But what is a heterotopia?

Foucault explains that a heterotopic space, “is like a ship par excellence”; in constant motion, elements are gained and lost, redefining the space’s essence. (Foucault, 1970). Despite the ship’s constant motion, traces of its contents, passengers and travel trajectory remain part and parcel of the heterotopic space. In urban terms, a city’s history remains embedded in its fabric, even as the city changes.

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Urban Change

Viewing the city as a heterotopia gives us multitude, rather than hegemony. This reading of the city highlights the thin, but stark difference between inclusion and constituency. While the allure of Berlin presupposes the former, the latter is becoming increasingly conditional.

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Call for papers

AMJournal calls on all scholars to submit their abstracts for the second issue of the online, peer reviewed Amsterdam Museum Journal, devoted to the impact of gentrification in urban spaces (published diamond open access in 2024).

More about the Call for Papers