Professor Rolnik warns of the dangers of losing public space in cities governed by the logic of privatisation.
At the beginning of June 2017 the urban planner Raquel Rolnik gave the lecture Cities in the Hands of Global Finance at the CCCB. In the interview she gave to Shared Spaces, Rolnik describes, from both political and spatial perspectives, the present-day process in which the public sphere tends to be privatised. If the city is subordinated to the logic of finance capital, contracts and private management, it will also be subject to a system in which the pursuit of economic benefits prevails over citizens’ needs.
She warns, then, about understanding public spaces from the standpoint of physical appearance alone since this has significantly favoured operations of valuing and marketing urban space which have benefitted the real-estate and finance complex. Rolnik believes that nowadays cities are caught up in a conflict between two forces, that of privatisation taking over the public sphere and the opposite movement in which people are taking over public space in a process of resistance against what she refers to as “financialisation”.
Rolnik says she has no particular favourite public space. However, she mentions the transformation of Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in Marrakesh since the 1970s from a place where anything could happen to a tourist destination now devoid of meaning.