This talk explores the complex relationships between urban space, the law, and emotion. It is based on the assumption that law is never simply applied, but always interpreted by a heterogeneous assemblage of legal and non-legal authorities. Common sense, professional experience, prejudice, and aesthetic judgment all inform the actions and decisions taken by urban practitioners – from officials at the Ordnungsamt to representatives of urban renewal initiatives.
The site for Hentschel’s analysis is Berlin’s neighbourhood of Neukölln – a place long branded as depressed and failing, but currently going through a phase of rapid, and nervous, transformation. The talk disentangles the legal and quasi-legal strategies that urban regulators apply in their attempts to alter the social, aesthetic and affective fabric of Neukölln’s spaces. Two spatialities – each in its own way iconic and troubled – come into focus here: the space of the casino on the one hand, and that of Broadway Neukölln (a shopping street called Karl Marx Straße) on the other. Coupling critical socio-legal studies with postcolonial urban theory, governmentality studies, and affect theory, Hentschel seeks to conceptualize the creative workings of the law in a time of a neighbourhood’s nervous flickering.