Anarchist Punks Resisting Gentrification: Countercultural Contestations of Space in the New Berlin

By David Drissel.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Although more than two decades have elapsed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, significant socio-spatial distinctions continue to exist in Berlin. Reports indicate that a psychological-cultural “wall in the head” has replaced the geopolitical Berlin Wall. Stereotypical portrayals of East and West Germans, known as Ossis and Wessis respectively, remain prevalent. Exacerbating Berlin’s informal spatial schism has been the movement of relatively affluent Wessis into eastern boroughs. In particular, numerous yuppies have relocated for the purpose of renovating old tenement houses, thus raising property values in the process. Consequently, thousands of low- and middle-income families have been displaced from their homes and neighborhoods. In response to gentrification, far-left political activists have organized street protests and other types of direct action. In particular, young “anarchists” and “punks” (or simply “anarcho-punks”) have become the shock troops of the anti-gentrification movement, often resorting to acts of civil disobedience, rioting, and property destruction. This paper examines the relatively recent phenomenon of gentrification and related socio-spatial changes in various Berlin neighborhoods, primarily from the vantage point of anarcho-punks. The influence of informal socio-spatial schisms in the present era, resulting in part from Berlin’s past territorial segmentation, is considered in this context.

Keywords: Gentrification, Anarcho-punks, Punk Rock, Berlin Wall, German Reunification, Berlin Youth, Urban Space, Countercultures, Wall in the Head, Ossis, Wessis, Yuppies, Anti-gentrification Movement, Socio-spatial, Kreuzberg

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 10, pp.19-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 710.839KB).

Prof. David Drissel

Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, IA, USA

David Drissel is a professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His undergraduate work included a double major in political science and sociology. His graduate studies focused on comparative politics, international relations, social change and development, and social movements. Research interests include transnational social movements and computer-mediated communication, nations/states undergoing political/economic transition, youth subcultures and collective identities, the global politics of Internet governance, juvenile delinquency and subterranean values, diasporic youth and social networking, and the role of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among many other countries. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several papers published in various academic journals and compilations. He is an alumnus of the Oxford (University) Roundtable in Great Britain, where he presented a paper which was later published in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs.

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