City of Thresholds

A conversation with Stavros Stavrides on the transformative potential of public culture, urban activism, and common life


Organizing Institutions

Slought, Common Notions


Malav Kanuga

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce City of Thresholds, a conversation about the transformative potential of public culture, urban activism, and common life, on Sunday, September 15, 2019 from 2-3:30pm. The event will feature a short presentation by activist and architect Stavros Stavrides, followed by conversation with cultural programmer Kazembe Balagun. This event has been organized in collaboration with the publishing house Common Notions to celebrate the launch of Towards the City of Thresholds.

In recent years, urban uprisings, insurrections, riots, and occupations have been an expression of the rage and desperation of our time. So too have they expressed the joy of reclaiming collective life and a different way of composing a common world. At the root of these rebellious moments lies thresholds—the spaces to be crossed from cities of domination and exploitation to a common world of liberation.

Towards the City of Thresholds is a pioneering and ingenious study of these new forms of socialization and uses of space—self-managed and communal—that passionately reveals cities as the sites of manifest social antagonism as well as spatialities of emancipation. Activist and architect Stavros Stavrides describes the powerful reinvention of politics and social relations stirring everywhere in our urban world and analyzes the theoretical underpinnings present in these metropolitan spaces and how they might be bridged to expand the commons.

What is the emancipatory potential of the city in a time of crisis? What thresholds must be crossed for us to realize this potential? To answer these questions, Stavrides draws penetrating insight from the critical philosophies of Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, and Henri Lefebvre—among others—to challenge the despotism of the political and urban crises of our times and reveal the heterotopias immanent within them.

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Stavros Stavrides is an architect and professor teaching at the National Technical University of Athens on housing and public space design as well as on the meaning of metropolitan experience. Stavrides's work on political autonomy in contemporary crises-governed cities provides timely urban theory to theorize forms of emancipating spatial practices and urban commoning, illuminated by an experience and knowledge of protest and rebellion in Athens since 2008. In addition to Towards the City of Thresholds, recent books include: The Symbolic Relation to Space, Advertising and the Meaning of Space, The Texture of Things, From the City-as-Screen to the City-as-Stage, Suspended Spaces of Alterity, Common Space: The City as Commons, as well as the forthcoming Common Spaces of Urban Emancipation.

Kazembe Balagun is a writer and cultural activist, He is the Project Manager at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and, from 2007 to 2013, he was the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Brecht Forum. For much of the 1990s he was a member of the direct action/ people of color led Student Liberation Action Movement, as well as Critical Resistance East. He has organized programs at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Maysles Cinema, and The Marxist Education Project. His writings can be found in Imagine Socialist USA, Conversations with Octavia Butler, and most recently Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the Radical Left 1970-1979.

"Today's important struggles arise out of collective experiences of deprivation and poverty as well as of stigmatization and discrimination.

Indigenous peoples' struggles; struggles for collective and individual dignity in work, education, and health; struggles in support of different forms of sexuality, belief, and culture; struggles for the defense of common goods and resources; struggles for gender equality; struggles against the ruling elites who destroy nature (and us, as part of nature). All of these struggles need to explore bridges, thresholds, and passages between themselves in order to construct networks of solidarity and shared hopes."

— Stavros Stavrides, Towards the City of Thresholds