Critical shortages of affordable housing force people into housing precarity across the globe. Housing in the Margins is an exploration of unruly housing practices and their regulation in the context of the German housing crisis. Through ethnographic research on the ways in which Berliners dwell in allotment gardens despite a law that prohibits housing at these sites, it illustrates how these gardeners negotiate the possibilities of residency with the local bureaucracy, gardening associations and amongst themselves. This analysis highlights the contested terrain of enacting regulations and the exclusions that these negotiations entail. Building on postcolonial theory, anthropology of the state and critical legal geography, the book draws attention to the power of negotiations in the governance of urban space. Urban geographer Hanna Hilbrandt thereby outlines how the state is constructed and performed in the everyday.
Housing in the Margins is a journey into normal-yet-transgressive living spaces on the periphery of Berlin. Hilbrandt powerfully rethinks statehood as the ordinary enactment of negotiation, shattering along the way the tired but all-too-persistent division between the global “North and South”.
Julie-Anne Boudreau, Institut national de la recherche scientifique and Instituto de Geografía UNAM
This is a truly remarkable book. It incorporates a rich discussion of the lived experience of informal housing in Berlin’s allotment gardens. But, in doing so, it also requires us to rethink how urban space is negotiated from below as well as above.
Allan Cochrane, Emeritus Professor of Urban Studies, The Open University, UK
Hanna Hilbrandt’s study generates new openings for urban studies to think urban informality, negotiated governance, and housing across the global north and south. Firmly rooted in Berlin’s distinctive history, this is a very welcome contribution to theorising the urban globally.
Jennifer Robinson, Professor of Geography, University College London, UK