“Environmental Sustainability? We Don’t Have That Here”: Freetown Christiania as an Unintentional Eco-village
How did an unintentional squat come to be termed an eco-village, and why would this car-free town reject a bicycle path? This article brings pressing urban and environmental issues together through a case study of “Freetown Christiania”, a squatter community located in the downtown of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city. With a framework based on the concepts of sustainable lifestyles and Leitner et al’s urban neoliberal contestations, I identify Christiania’s alternative socio-spatial imaginaries and practices. Ethnographic field work consisting of interviews and participant observation while living at the community’s researcher house allow for an in-depth exploration of Christiania’s history and experiences, and their implications for conventional conceptions of and pathways to sustainability. I show how Christiania’s values and practices differ from the “green” priorities of Copenhagen’s carbon neutral goal, with resistance to Christianshavnruten, a proposed cycle path that would cut through Christiania. My findings show resistance to the dominant discourse of sustainability, for example through a temporal focus on the present as opposed to the conventional considerations for future generations. Christiania’s dedication to self-expression, consensus decision making, and collective ownership, allow for considerations on how urban citizens reclaim their everyday spaces.
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