The Right to The City: urban and global justice

In the late 1960s following major ‘revolutionary’ civil disturbances in France, Henri Lefebvre proposed in effect a manifesto calling for the right to urban life, known more popularly as The Right to The City (RTC). Continuing everyday occupations and private (sometimes violent, often state-supported) appropriations of urban space in cities across the Global North and South in the 2010s attest that now more than ever RTC is both under threat but also full of everyday dynamic energy and a rallying point for opposition to urban injustice. United Nations Habitat III (the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development 2016) ratified The New Urban Agenda policy document that enshrines RTC as a crucial underpinning for urban development, human dignity and global justice. RTC as an element in Habitat III was championed mainly by countries in Latin America and some in Europe. That said, the USA, Russia, India and China amongst others resisted its inclusion and many commentators are worried by RTC’s seemingly fragile foothold in Habitat III. And although RTC has many advocates among academics, politicians and activists, it is a deeply contested concept, with some participants in the debate voicing despair at its apparent hijacking by reactionary and neoliberal interests.

 This session seeks papers offering explorations of the diverse phenomena that constitute RTC theory, policy or practice. Papers that endeavour to reveal and explain the complexities of RTC issues across the themes of: a globalising world, cities and urbanisation and social justice will be most welcome. Papers may approach the issues from theoretical, empirical or critically reflective perspectives, which is not to imply these categories are mutually exclusive. Papers that illustrate RTC ‘success’ and its status as a profound source of hope and resistance as well as those that critique the concept and the practice are encouraged.

Michael E Leary-Owhin, London South Bank University