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Building a Grand Paris: French Neoliberalism and the Politics of Urban Spatial Production


This dissertation is an in-depth analysis of the Grand Paris regional agglomeration and redevelopment initiative launched in 2007 by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. At the base of this multifaceted project is a political and economic mandate to address unrest caused by racialized segregations and vast inequalities in wealth and social service provision between the historic core and the peripheral suburbs, and to recast metropolitan Paris as a socially cohesive and globally competitive region. Through an examination of three important Grand Paris policy sites--artistic re-imaginings of the region, improved transportation infrastructure and government rescaling--the dissertation argues that the attempt to create a unified and poly-centric Greater Paris region is, paradoxically, poised to further entrench existing social and spatial inequalities by orienting the city around the values of economic growth and territorial competition. It argues that the emerging urbanization regime of Paris has serious detrimental consequences for sociospatial justice and for possibilities of grassroots control over spatial production. Furthermore, the dissertation identifies a new mode of neoliberalism in France that combines the republican values of social cohesion and vast public spending, particularly in infrastructures of mass transit, with speculative development, global finance and private enterprise.

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