Nils GrubeGisela Welz

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Against the backdrop of a pervasive “culturalisation” of urbanism (A. Reckwitz), this article argues that “cultural diversity” has become an important resource for city branding and for the economic as well as symbolic upgrading of urban eighborhoods. In order to function as an asset contributing to the revalorization of formerly declining city spaces, poverty, social exclusion, and ethnic heterogeneity of the resident population are re-coded as “cultural diversity”. Increasingly, cultural diversity is also staged as a colorful spectacle, to be consumed by urban residents and tourists alike. Using the “Bahnhofsviertel” of Frankfurt, an immigrant neighborhood near the central train station, as a case in point, the article inquires into a new type of on-site presentation of “cultural diversity” that utilizes neighborhood streets and public spaces as venues, often requiring audiences to walk and explore the designated area on foot. Open-air theatre performances, guided walking tours and sidewalk exhibits of artwork are critically analyzed as to their potential to engage with the social fabric and the materiality of urban neighborhoods, while they are priming city spaces for visual consumption and incipient gentrification.