Park Politics

Maria Hellström Reimer

Project Period: 2014-2014
Type: Senior research project
Program Area(s): Material Conditions, Critical Projections


The emergence of “the urban public park” in the 19th century constitutes a point of urban transition. As a bio-politically motivated materialization of leisure, the modern urban park has been aestheticized and mythologized, but also contested and re-purposed. While often appearing to offer a space for political consensus, the urban public park is a result of a bargaining about values such as sustainability, social responsibility and public health, and today furthermore also a kind of space reflecting an uneven distribution of common resources.

Although the focus of this on-going study is the Emporia Rooftop Park at Hyllie Centre in Malmö, Sweden; a six acres privately owned and managed, yet publically accessible green space on top of one of Scandinavia’s most extensive shopping facilities, it also comprises a contextualization of the – more or less public – urban park as a competitive political actant in an urban power play increasingly coded in terms of
green growth and corporate social responsibility. This is a complexity that calls for composite methods and, more specifically, for an iterative and adversarial approach (see below), including comparative studies. The present application concerns the expenses related to the contextualizing phase of the project, more specifically for a
stay in New York in the autumn 2014. New York and Boston provide important access points both to early and late modern park politics and the negotiation of class, gender, ethnicity, nature and urbanity. A coherent stay in New York with an affiliation with Parsons The New School for Social Research and more specifically the DESIS Lab (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability), would provide me with access to relevant cases and archives and enable me to focus on finishing a longer essay and a book proposal on the topic in question.

Researcher(s) Bio and Publications