Sidewalk fix, elite maneuvering and improvement sensibilities: The urban improvement campaign in Moscow

Drawing upon recent work on uneven development, neoliberal urban improvement, and everyday urban mobilities, the author focuses on the ways in which narratives of improvement intersect with infrastructural agendas for roads and sidewalks. While a lack of finances or political autonomy prevents many municipalities from investing in the maintenance of transport infrastructure, some capitals receive considerable central state resources directed towards ambitious infrastructural projects. The author builds a case about the current massive reconstruction of the Moscow center. The author demonstrates that in the context of today's Moscow, neoliberal urban improvement becomes the mechanism for uneven development of the city in question but also of the country as a whole while everyday urban mobilities hardly become more sustainable. The case reveals the intersection of diverse trajectories of urban speculative development, experiences and sensibilities of citizens, and the circuits of power. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2015–2017, the author contributes to the growing transport infrastructure literature by considering how prioritizing the nexus of improvement and rent-seeking results in subjecting citizens to various inconveniences and risks related to street refurbishment. The author uses three main concepts to make sense of Moscow's urban improvement campaign. The author employs the concept of “improvement sensibilities” to theorize the translation of material and discursive components of the “My Street” campaign into practical and political effects. The trends around coping with transport congestion by introducing higher densities, walkability and public transport connections comprise, the author argues, “the sidewalk fix” that combines attempts to restructure the built environment with the aim to continue rent-seeking and economic expansion. “Elite maneuvering” is engaged to capture the ways in which the accumulation of enormous rewards is variously secured by the Moscow authorities, including the use of the rhetoric of “comfortable city”.


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  • Accession Number: 01736934
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 22 2020 12:27PM