Urban and Population Geography working group

Ongoing Research Projects

Transnational social and economic development of German and Polish metropolitan regions

  The Collaboration focuses on the question how Polish and German cities and metropolitan regions are developing under the influence of economic and social globalization processes. Specific local framework conditions, the role of economic and cultural creativity for specific urban development processes, and how social geographic perspectives can contribute to the development of space changes at different spatial urban levels are also considered.

The research will take place between 2017 and 2019.

Responsible at the university Kiel: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Responsible at the partner university Poznan: Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Stryjakiewicz, Prof. Dr. Tomasz Kaczmarek Dr. hab. Anna Tobolska

Everyday practices and identity constructions in the field of tension of refugee camps. Surveillance, governmentality and action strategies.


Tobias Breuckmann is researching the local negotiation of the EU border regime in and around the Hot Spot Camp on Lesvos, Greece in his current PhD project. The theoretical basis is the theory of governmentality, with a corresponding focus on the mutual and dynamic negotiation of government practices. With a view to social and political geography, the question of how spaces of governance are (re)constructed and which counter-spaces in the sense of stubborn migrations are created in interaction is examined in particular.


Research Assistent: Tobias Breuckmann

For central publications see staff

The production of urban spaces in a perpetuated crisis. Austerity, the reconfiguration of social reproduction and municipalist alternatives in Berlin and Barcelona.


The production of urban life under crisis conditions is the result of many conflicts over the distribution of social wealth. For the capital side, urbanization serves to shift crises in time and space, politics strives to create a consensus for society as a whole, and many people in cities are confronted with the everyday consequences of the crisis. Alternative forms of social reproduction, urban everyday life and political representation also emerge from this. The examples of Berlin and Barcelona will be used to examine the scope for such alternatives and whether institutionalised urban policy is possible beyond macroeconomic and political constraints.


Research Assistent: Martin Sarnow

For central publications see staff

Living (Transit)Spaces in the Maghreb: Space productions in the context of EU border and security policy and so-called transit migration

  For several decades the irregular migration from Africa to Europe has attracted attention from numerous politicians and scholars across different disciplines. Europe and its security policy have been of particular importance. By offering a different perspective on this topic, this dissertation tries to capture the problem more accurate. Considering that most of the migrants do not succeed in crossing the Mediterranean, the Maghreb and the migrants, who settle down in North Africa for some time, are the main focus of interest. The destinations of these so-called transit migrants are the cities, which offer them different ways to finance their temporary stay and a possible onward journey, but in turn are transformed by the migrants. Due to their mostly undocumented status, the migrants face unemployment or employment in the irregular sector, which in turn can lead to several negative side effects, such as illegal labor, prostitution, drug trafficking, human smuggling and human trafficking spreading out in the cities.

Research Assistent: Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat

For central publications see staff

The negotiation of dispossession – the case of Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant (Pará, Brazil)

  The construction of the hydroelectric power plant Belo Monte in the Xingu river basin, Brazil, represents an economic model usually labeled neo-developmentalism, which can be regarded as the Brazilian political and economical elites’ favored development model. Following the logic of “internal colonialism”, it aims at integrating sparsely populated and peripheral regions like the Amazon into national capitalism via neo-extractivist mechanisms and large-scale projects. The example of Belo Monte illustrates that the dispossession of thousands of families – mainly fisher(wo)men, resp. riverines – is not limited to the material sphere. Being forced to leave their homes in Altamira and/or on the surrounding islands, they also have to give up their way of life and their respective identities, neighborhoods, histories etc. The research project analyses these complex forms of dispossession. Based on Butler and Athanasiou (2013), dispossession is conceptualized as a relational and multidimensional process that involves the psychosocial dimension. However, those processes of dispossession are not imposed unilaterally but – in the sense of Arendts (2006[1961]) political action and Tullys (1999) agonic game – occur through diverse forms of contentious negotiation between the responsible consortium, the affected, and other involved actors. In doing so, resistance to dispossession is primarily a struggle for recognition. By analyzing those forms of negotiation, the research projected aims at a conceptual enhancement of the term dispossession which helps to understand the complexity of such large-scale projects and so called processes of development-induced displacement and resettlement.

Research Assistent: Dr. Sören Weißermel

For central publications see staff

Interplay between area-based security policies and daily security practices in São Paulo, Brazil

  In residential areas of the broader Brazilian middle class, security policies have been intensified and, particularly, technical security measures have been massively expanded for several years. This progress influences and limits everyday action patterns of the urban population increasingly, and changes communicative and social structures and processes in local urban space intensively. Referring to the discussion of geographical urban and security studies, it is the main purpose of the project to study daily security-oriented actions, at the microscale level of households, neighbourhoods and districts of the urban middle class in the municipality of São Paulo (Brazil), and to understand their interplay with public and private security policies Therefore, it will be interface a human geographical perspective both with actor-oriented as well as praxeological approaches.

Funding: DFG 2012-2015

Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Research Assistent: Dipl.-Geogr. Dominik Haubrich

For central publications see staff

New urban-regional development processes and urban governance in Central Europe

  - description soon to follow -

Funding: DAAD (2014-2016)

Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn (CAU Kiel) and Dr. Alexander Tölle (Universität Poznan)

For central publications see staff

Urban Dynamics: Global Perspectives for a Socio-cultural Urban Management

  Currently, Europe’s urban societies are confronted by massive challenges: economic crises have increased the risk of social dislocation; and political and economic factors have given rise to increasing migratory movements that are generating heterogeneous spaces. In order to prepare graduates for these challenges, the Strategic Partnership „Urban Dynamics“ aims to provide proper formation in the field of socio-cultural urban management. In order to realize its goals, the project team of Kiel University established an interdisciplinary and transnational network. Besides two further European partners – Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and Université Paris 8 –, the Latin American Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires and Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife form part of the network. Several learning activities will support students’ international mobility and enable free access to innovative, validatable education materials. The students of the five partner universities will elaborate joint case studies by means of a blended-learning platform. A summer school and a concluding start-up academy will serve to move forward international networking of urban social entrepreneurship. Internships abroad are part of the curriculum, too.

Homepage des Projekts: http://www.urbandynamics.eu/

Project webpage: http://www.urbandynamics.eu/

International Meetings
International Symposium March 2016,
Kiel Workshop: „Spaces of/for Urban Cultures“, May 2016,
Santiago (de Compostela) Workshop: „Creative Urban Politics“, 27 March - 1 April 2017

Case Studies:
  Refugee Movements to Europe: Regulation, Distribution, Accommodation? Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat, 
  Learning from alternative Spaces? M. Sc. Michael Helten
UD Internship 2016-17

EU Erasmus+ 2015-2017

Prof. Dr. Javier Gómez-Montero, Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn, Project Manager: Dr. Victor A. Ferretti, Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat and Dr. Corinna Hölzl