Multistable FiguresOn the Critical Potential of Ir/Reversible Aspect-SeeingVienna: Turia + Kant, 2014
Copy to Clipboard
Add italics as necessary
Cite as: Christine Hentschel, ‘KippCity’, in Multistable Figures: On the Critical Potential of Ir/Reversible Aspect-Seeing, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 8 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2014), pp. 23–40 <>

KippCityChristine Hentschel


This chapter explores the potentials of multistable figures (Kippbilder) for conceptualizing urban change. This potential, Hentschel argues, lies in the flip-moment itself, in the space-time of urban transformation. In Berlin-Neukölln, a neighbourhood long branded as poor and failing, multiple and partly conflicting flip-scenarios have begun to inspire and haunt the neighbourhood and its self-reflective talk. KippCity Neukölln is thus a flickering figure. But unlike an artefact Kippbild, which flickers between duck and rabbit, for example, KippCity Neukölln does not simply tip into a new pre-fabricated form, but rather wavers between different future scenarios. Neukölln’s flickering urbanity is thus nervous, full of uncertainty, frustration and enthusiasm. The article shows how the neighbourhood seeks escape from the dystopia of two dominant flip scenarios of ghettoization and gentrification by digging its claws into its Now.

Keywords: Berlin-Neukölln; future concepts; gentrification; ghettoization; multistable figures; multistability; urban change

Click here to open the pdf in a new window or download.


  1. Abbas, Ackbar, ‘Poor Theory and New Chinese Cinema: Jia Zhangke’s “Still Life”’ (Lecture held at the Critical Theory Institute, University of California, Irvine, 3 December 2008), p. 14
  2. Atkinson, Rowland G., ‘The Flowing Enclave and the Misanthropy of Networked Affluence’, in Networked Urbanism: Social Capital in the City, ed. by Talja Blokland and Mike Savage (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), pp. 41–58
  3. Blokland, Talja, Urban Bonds: Social Relationships in an Inner City Neighbourhood (Cambridge: Polity, 2003)
  4. Connolly, William, ‘Materiality, Experience, and Surveillance’, in Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life, ed. by Bruce Braun and Sarah Whatmore (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), pp. 63–86
  5. Das, Veena, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent Into the Ordinary (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)
  6. Hentschel, Christine, ‘City Ghosts: The Haunted Struggles for Downtown Durban and Berlin Neukölln’, in Locating Right to the City in the Global South: Transnational Urban Governance and Socio-spatial Transformations, ed. by Tony R. Samara, Shenjing He, and Guo Chen (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), pp. 195–217
  7. Heymann, Nana, ‘Mehr Gentrifizierung wagen!’, Der Tagesspiegel (27 August 2011) <> [accessed 2 February 2012]
  8. Holm, Andrej, ‘Gentrification in Berlin: Neue Investitionsstrategien und lokale Konflikte’, in Die Besonderheit des Städtischen: Entwicklungen der Stadt(soziologie), ed. by Heike Herrmann, Carsten Keller, Rainer Neef, and Renate Ruhne (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2011), pp. 213–32
  9. ‘Gentrification Mainstream in Berlin’, Lecture at the Urban Sociology Colloquium, Humboldt University (Berlin, 9 May 2011)
  10. Wir Bleiben Alle! Gentrifizierung – Städtische Konflikte um Aufwertung und Verdrängung (Münster: Unrast Verlag, 2010) <>
  11. ‘Wohnungspolitik der rot-roten Koalition in Berlin’, in Linke Metropolenpolitik: Erfahrungen und Perspektiven am Beispiel Berlin, ed. by Andrej Holm, Klaus Lederer, and Matthias Naumann (Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2011)
  12. Massey, Doreen, For Space (London: Sage, 2005)
  13. Nuttall, Sarah, Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2009) <>
  14. Rabinow, Paul and George E. Marcus with James D. Faubion and Tobias Rees, Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008) <>
  15. Simone, AbdouMaliq, City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads (New York: Routledge, 2010) <>
  16. Slaski, Jacek, ‘Spielplatz der Avantgarde’, TIP Berlin, 39 (4 March 2010), pp. 29–35
  17. Slater, Tom, ‘The Eviction of Critical Perspectives from Gentrification Research’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30.4 (2006), pp. 737–57 <>
  18. Smith, Neil, ‘On “The Eviction of Critical Perspectives”’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32.1 (2008), pp. 195–97 <>
  19. ‘Toward a Theory of Gentrification: A Back to the City Movement by Capital, not People’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 45.4 (1979), pp. 538–47 <>
  20. ‘Der Zusammenschluss zwischen Anti-Gentrifizierungskämpfen und den Aktivitäten der weltweiten Bewegung für soziale Gerechtigkeit kann extrem bedrohlich werden’, in Mieterecho, 324 (Oktober 2007), pp. 9–12, <> [accessed 7 July 2013]
  21. Thiesen, Andreas, ‘Neue Spießer: Warum die übliche Kritik an der Gentrifizierung provinziell ist und zu nichts führt’, Die Zeit (26 January 2012), p. 54
  22. VVN-Westberlin/Verband der Antifaschisten und Neuköllner Kulturverein, eds, Widerstand in Neukölln (Berlin: Movimento Druck, 1987)
  23. Wacqant, Loic, ‘Relocating Gentrification: The Working Class, Science and the State in Recent Urban Research’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32.1 (2008), pp. 198–205 <>
  24. Wensierski, Peter, ‘Endstation Neukölln’, Der Spiegel, 43 (1997), pp. 58–63
  25. Zukin, Sharon, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)