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How Green Became GoodUrbanized Nature and the Making of Cities and Citizens$
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Hillary Angelo

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226738994

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226739182.001.0001

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Proletarian Counterpublics: Reimagining the Colonies

Proletarian Counterpublics: Reimagining the Colonies

(p.107) Chapter 4 Proletarian Counterpublics: Reimagining the Colonies
How Green Became Good

Hillary Angelo

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 examines the movement to save the Eisenheim, one of the oldest workers’ colonies in the Ruhr, as a second green answer to the question of how to rebuild democracy and urban public life in the postwar world. As disillusionment with modernist planning and bourgeois forms of democracy grew, this grassroots effort—connected with ’68 movements—proposed an alternative model of urban publics. Rather than the bourgeois public sphere represented by Revierparks (Chapter 3), the movement drew on the work of two of Habermas’s students, Oscar Negt and Alexander Kluge, to advocate for a “proletarian,” counterpublic sphere, which it located in the Ruhr’s traditional workers’ colonies. Through movement-produced materials the chapter shows how the colonies’ gardens and animals were understood to create forms of sociality that could be the foundation for politics based in history, community, class, and experience. The chapter also documents the reinterpretation of existing natures rather than the design of new ones. It argues that deindustrialization and the closure of the mining and steel companies made it possible to reimagine company housing—once a site of repressive control—as an emancipatory space and the locus of a new democratic politics in a new political economy.

Keywords:   Eisenheim, colonies, Oskar Negt, proletarian public sphere, Roland Günter, Arbeiterinitiative, reimagining, working class nature, Alexander Kluge

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