Evangelia Athanassiou


A recurring theme in urban planning and urban design, citizen participation has been adopted by international organisations (UNECE, 1998; UN, 2016; OECD, 2022) and, has recently, been reinstated in different conceptualizations, planning scales and political meanings, both through formal processes incorporated into legal planning frameworks or led by the local authorities and through citizen-led initiatives with varying degrees of interaction and conflict with formal urban policies (Cornwall, 2009; Miraftab, 2004; Kapsali 2023). 
The paper discusses the way participation in public space production is conceptualised in prominent urban strategies towards resilience as triggered, formulated and promoted globally by the Rockefeller Foundation Initiative “100 Resilient Cities”.

First, the emergence of philanthropic foundations as new social actors of urban development in Greece, is understood as part of a new governance regime formulated in the context of austerity politics. A brief examination of prominent projects of public space creation that were funded by foundations during the crisis illuminates specific hegemonic discourses endorsed through the foundations’ granting initiatives for public space. Subsequently, the paper focuses on the initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation and embarks on a critique of the way participation is conceptualized within the initiative and in the “Resilience strategies” of Athens and Thessaloniki.  Notwithstanding their inclusive rhetoric, participation is instigated by an international benevolent foundation, facilitated by global consultants acting in parallel and not from within locally instituted planning processes. It is argued that within the framework of this global initiative, participation becomes a matter of techno-managerial “know-how” and its potential to unsettle unjust socio-environmental processes and act towards justice and democracy is questioned.


How to Cite
Athanassiou, E. (2023) “Participation as a Global Urban Strategy Towards Resilience: A Case of ‘Benevolent Urbanism’”, The Journal of Public Space, 8(3), pp. 45–60. doi: 10.32891/jps.v8i3.1199.
Author Biography

Evangelia Athanassiou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Architecture

Evangelia Athanassiou studied architecture in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She did graduate studies at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York (MA, 1992) and acquired her PhD from the University of Edinburgh (PhD, 1999). Her doctoral thesis is a critical approach of the concept of urban sustainability. She has taught at the Hellenic Open University, at the Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly and at the Department of Spatial Planning and Development, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Since 2009, she teaches urban planning and design at the Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She has published in international and Greek scientific journals and has contributed in several international conferences.


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