Reconfiguring public spaces through green urban commons. On the significance of agrarian movements for transitions of urban space in Vienna.

This 3-years-project is funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) on the significance of agrarian movements for urban space in Vienna. It is located at the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna, and was started in November 2013.

Project Description

Starting in November 2013, the project will engage with the connection between the public and self-organized appropriation of land in Vienna for agricultural-horticultural purposes. “Reconfiguring public spaces through green urban commons” is a three-year-project; the team consists of Stephanie Arzberger, Ulrich Brand, Andreas Exner, Stephan Hochleithner, and Sarah Kumnig. Public space in the city is very often associated with images of certain localities, such as squares, and parks or as spaces for (political) protests, but is rarely related to as a collective means of material production in the sense of green urban commons. Nevertheless, occupation and agricultural use of urban areas without impervious ground cover are significant – historically, today, and maybe in the future. Important questions are: How do movements or initiatives, cultivating such areas, relate to each other? To what extent are issues of agriculture, food culture(s), and urban space, thereby being re-negotiated? What is the role of public policy in these processes?
Based on data gathered in the field, from existing literature and contemporary sources, the project intends to answer, among other things, three basic questions:
– Which are the conditions for the emergence of social movements which co-shape urban spaces by claiming land for agricultural purposes?
– What are the factors for success or failure of such movements, and how do they impact the production of public space?
– Which (constructions of) meaning are developed or contested by these movements?
A historical part of the project will reconstruct the history of movements that claimed or created Green Urban Commons. A second approach will focus on contemporary movements using qualitative ethnographic and political-science methods, and quantitative analyses. The third part of the project will consist of localizing the findings within broader theoretical perspectives.


Ulrich Brand
Stephan Hochleithner
Andreas Exner
Peter Krobath
Sarah Kumnig
Isabelle Schützenberger
Stephanie Arzberger