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ISSN: 2183-7635

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Critique, Creativity and the Co-Optation of the Urban: A Case of Blind Fields and Vague Spaces in Lefebvre, Copenhagen and Current Perceptions of the Urban

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Abstract:  Even though more than four decades have passed since the writing of The Production of Space, with walls, governance regimes and financial markets coming tumbling down, cities around the globe still find themselves in—and reproduce what Lefebvre would characterize as—abstract space, a space produced by economy and bureaucracy, and reproducing dominant regimes thereof beyond the grasp of users and inhabitants of cities. In this article, it is argued that an urban perception is cancelled out in the reductive struggle between two dominant perceptions of urban change. The article unfolds in three moments: firstly, an outline of Henri Lefebvre’s critique of ‘the urban’ and ‘the production of space’ is presented in order to clarify his critique of reductive perceptions and the significance of the urban in his work; secondly, a conceptualizing narrative anchoring Lefebvre’s concepts to recent developments in Copenhagen, not least developments related to the sub-cultures, is explored — showing how different agents pursue the realization of different perceptions of urban change; thirdly, it is concluded that this development needs to be conceptualized as a reduction of the urban into a residual as well as the unfolding of a dominant contradiction between ‘critique’ and ‘creativity’.

Keywords:  centralities; creative cities; critique of neo-liberalism; diversion; Henri Lefebvre; reduction; the urban; transduction; urban change; vague space



© Jan Lilliendahl Larsen, Jens Brandt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.