Space for Urban Alternatives? - GUPEA

articles on Christiania have been written by non-academics, including journalists ...... new energy, and the Freetown reassumed its status as a space for urban.
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Space for Urban Alternatives?

Christiania is a squatted area in the district of Christianshavn in Copenhagen, located less than one mile from the Royal Danish Palace and the Danish parliament. It stretches over 49 hectares (32, excluding the water in the moats) and consists of old military barracks and parts of the city’s ramparts dating from the seventeenth century; as well as a number of buildings constructed after 1971 (when the Freetown was proclaimed). The area offers city life as well as life in the countryside. Today approximately 900 people live in Christiania. According to the latest public census (2003), 60 per cent of these were male and 20 per cent were under 18 years old. Further, 60 per cent had elementary school as their highest level of education. While there is a group with a substantial registered income, two-thirds of the population either receive social assistance or have no registered income. The Freetown is divided into 14 self-governing areas and all decisions affecting the whole of Christiania are taken by the Common Meeting, which is ruled by consensus democracy.

Map: Hasløv & Kjærsgaard.

Space for Urban Alternatives? Ch r ist i a n i a 1971–2011

Editors: Håkan Thörn, Cathrin Wasshede and Tomas Nilson

gidlunds förlag

This book is also available for free download at Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive (GUPEA),

Cover: Leah Robb © the authors, 2011 isbn 978-91-7844-830-2 Printed by BALTO print, Vilnius 2011


Håkan Thörn, Cathrin Wasshede and Tomas Nilson Introduction: From ‘Social Experiment’ to ‘Urban Alternative’ —  40 Years of Research on the Freetown  ·  7 René Karpantschof Bargaining and Barricades — the Political Struggle over the Freetown Christiania 1971–2011  ·  38 Håkan Thörn Governing Freedom — Debating Christiania in the Danish Parliament   ·  68 Signe Sophie Bøggild Happy Ever After? The Welfare City in between the Freetown and the New Town  ·  98 Maria Hellström Reimer The Hansen Family and the Micro-Physics of the Everyday  ·  132 Helen Jarvis Alternative Visions of Home and Family Life in Christiania: Lessons for the Mainstream  ·  156 Cathrin Wasshede Bøssehuset — Queer Perspectives in Christiania  ·  181

Tomas Nilson ‘Weeds and Deeds’ — Images and Counter Images of Christiania and Drugs  ·  205 Christa Simone Amouroux Normalisation within Christiania  ·  235 Amy Starecheski Consensus and Strategy: Narratives of Naysaying and Yeasaying in Christiania’s Struggles over Legalisation  ·  263 Anders Lund Hansen Christiania and the Right to the City  ·  288

Notes  ·  309 References  ·  340 Acknowledgements  ·  361 About the authors  ·  362

Introduction: From ‘social experiment’ to ‘urban alternative’ — 40 years of research on the Freetown Håkan Thörn, Cathrin Wasshede & Tomas Nilson

Introduction On 26 September 1971, a group from the alternative newspaper Hoved­ bladet were photographed as they staged a symbolic takeover of the abandoned Bådsmandsstræde Barracks, a military area in Christians­ havn, a centrally located working class district in Copenhagen, Denmark that had been squatted by young people. Over the following weeks, images and reports from the proclamation of the ‘Freetown Christiania’ were published by mainstream national media around the country. Soon people were travelling to the Danish capital from all over Europe to be part of the foundation of the new community, located no more than a mile from the Royal Danish Palace and the Danish parliament. In 1973, the Social Democratic government of Denmark gave Chris­ tiania the official (but temporary) status of a ‘social experiment’. A ‘Christiania Act’ passed by a broad parliamentary majority in 1989 legalised the squat and made it possible to grant Christiania the right to collective use of the area. This was however reversed under the Liberal-Conservative government in 2004, when the parliament (again with a broad