Monday, August 29, 2011

Commentary on the Riots in England

Riot On! The British Looting Tradition. From doodledubz collective

Not surprisingly, when riots happen in London and other major English cities, they attract plenty of commentary by the 'heavy-hitters'. This is partly because they were significant events involving thousands of people over several days, and it's partly because events in London are assigned 'global significance' thanks to London's pre-eminent position in the network of capitalist 'global cities'.

So, here's some links to commentary pieces on the riots in by some high-ish profile left-leaning academic folks, mostly sourced via other blogs and lists. I think I found the Gilroy and Hatherley pieces the most interesting, probably because they are the ones that are most engaged with some of the actual places where this stuff went down...

-- Zygmunt Bauman says the riots are "consumerism coming home to roost" here ...

-- George Ciccariello-Mayer makes a case against the denigration of those involved as an irrational mob here ...

-- Richard Florida argues that riots are "a feature, not a bug, of cities in the global era" here. His solution: extend the promise of creativity to all ... of course! (OK, not so left-ish I know, but very interesting to see Florida rage against the inequality of the "corporate remaking of cities"...

-- Paul Gilroy considers the differences in context between the 1981 and 2011 riots here ...

-- David Harvey argues that the problem is not feral kids but feral capitalism here ...

-- Owen Hatherley writes a really interesting piece on the urban geography of it all here, noting the particular geographies on inequality in English cities where rich and poor are spatially proximate to each other, and yet don't really live in the same 'place'...

-- Owen Jones argues that the conservative right are likely to be strengthened by the riots here ...

-- John Keane situates the riots within a wider malaise of representative democracy undercut by the marketplace here ...

-- Naomi Klein discusses the "nighttime robbery" of the riots alongside the "daylight robbery" of privatisation, bail-outs, bonuses and austerity here ...

-- Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson (authors of The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone) respond critically to the notion that family breakdown is a causal factor in the events here ...

-- Nina Power writes on the context that should not be ignored here, and on how David Cameron is making things worse here ...

-- Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen make the link between budget cuts and broken windows here ...

-- McKenzie Wark gives a Situationist take on the logic of riots in the society of the spectacle here ...

-- Slavoj Zizek argues that both conservative and liberal interpretations fail to see what's really going on here, suggesting that the enigma of the riots is that they "demanded nothing" ...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Right to the City: a Virtual Reader

A few posts ago, I wrote up an account of a conference held here in Sydney recently on the ‘Right to the City’. In putting together a paper for that conference, I re-read parts of Lefebvre’s Right to the City for the first time in a while. I got heaps out of it … as with most of my previous efforts to read Lefebvre, I found myself not quite sure what the hell was going on in some passages, and completely inspired by other passages. Not only was it really helpful in interrogating some of the do-it-yourself urbanisms that were the subject of the conference, but I’m sure it’s also going to be incredibly productive in approaching the green bans as I continue to work my way through the archival material on that.

Anyways, I also started putting together a bit of a list of secondary sources on the concept and how it is being approached and used today. So, I thought I’d post that list here (in chronological order), just in case it’s useful to anyone else.

I haven’t made my way through everything listed below, and it’s by no means an exhaustive list of people who have engaged with the ‘right to the city’, but it’s not a bad start. I've tried to keep the list to pieces that engage with the meaning and politics of the 'right to the city', rather than pieces which mention the 'right to the city' only in passing (of which there are lots).

So, if you think I’ve missed anything, let me know. And of course, it goes without saying that if you have trouble accessing any of these in your neck of the woods, get in touch:  kurt[dot]iveson[at]sydney[dot]edu[dot]au

Rosalyn Deutsche (1999) Reasonable Urbanism, in Michael Sorkin (ed) Giving Ground: The politics of propinquity, New York: Verso.

Engin Isin (2000) Introduction: democracy, citizenship and the city, in Engin Isin (ed) Democracy, Citizenship and the Global City, New York: Routledge.

Mark Purcell (2002) Excavating Lefebvre: The Right to the City and its Urban Politics of the Inhabitant, GeoJournal, 58(2-3): 99-108 (this is one of several great articles Mark wrote before his 2008 book came out – see below).

Mustafa Dikeç (2002) Police, Politics, and the Right to the City, GeoJournal, 58(2-3): 91-98.

Eugene McCann (2002) Space, Citizenship and the Right to the City: a brief overview, GeoJournal, 58(2-3): 77-79.

Don Mitchell (2003) The Right to the City: Social justice and the fight for public space, New York: Guildford.

Tovi Fenster (2005) The Right to the Gendered City: Different Formations of Belonging in Everyday Life, Journal of Gender Studies, 14(3): 217-231.

Edésio Fernandes (2007) Constructing the ‘Right to the City’ in Brazil, Social and Legal Studies, 16(2): 201-219.

David Harvey (2008) The Right to the City, New Left Review, 53: 23-40.

Mark Purcell (2008) Recapturing Democracy: Neoliberalisation and the struggle for alternative urban futures, New York: Routledge.

Liette Gilbert and Mustafa Dikeç (2008) Right to the City: Politics of Citizenship, in Kanishka Goonewardena, Stefan Kipfer, Richard Milgrom and Christian Schmid (Eds) Space, Difference, Everyday Life: Reading Henri Lefebvre, New York: Routledge.

Peter Marcuse (2009) From critical urban theory to the right to the city, City, 13(2-3):185-197.

Jackie Leavitt, Tony Roshan Samara and Marnie Brady (2009) The Right to the City Alliance: Time to Democratize Urban Governance, Progressive Planning, 181: 4-12.

Margit Mayer (2009) The Right to the City in the context of shifting mottos of urban social movements, City, 13(2-3): 362-374.

Marcelo Lopes de Souza (2010) Which Right to Which City? In defense of political-strategic clarity, Interface, 2(1): 315-333.

Edward Soja (2010) Seeking Spatial Justice. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Margaret Crawford (2011) Rethinking ‘Rights’, Rethinking ‘Cities’: a response to David Harvey’s ‘The Right to the City’, in Zanny Begg and Lee Stickells (eds) The Right to the City, Sydney: Tin Sheds Gallery.

Andy Merrifield (2011) The Right to the City and Beyond: Notes on a Lefebvrian reconceptualisation, City, 15(3-4).

There are also some relevant collections, for instance:
·      the special issue of GeoJournal in 2002 (58: 2-3) on Social Transformation, Citizenship, and the Right to the City, edited by Lyn Staeheli, Lorraine Dowler, and Doris Wastl-Walter (in which a couple of the articles above were published);
·      International Public Debates: Urban Policies and the Right to the City, UNESCO, 2006;
·      Ana Sugranyes and Charlotte Mathivet (2010, eds) Cities for All: Proposals and Experiences towards the Right to the City, Santiago: Habitat International Coalition.

And of course, there are some great books out there on Lefebvre which provide some broader intellectual and political context for the concept – I’ve enjoyed both Stuart Elden’s and Rob Shield’s books on Lefebvre.

Update #1
Tony Samara wrote to let me know that in Feb 2012 a new collection is coming out, edited by Michael Peter Smith & Michael McQuarrie, called Remaking Urban Citizenship: Organizations, Institutions, and the Right to the City, Transaction Publishers. Thanks Tony!

Update #2
Following James Duminy's comment below, I found the following two pieces:

AbdouMaliq Simone (2005) The Right to the City, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 7(3): 321-325.

Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (2010) The ‘Right to the City’: Institutional Imperatives of a Developmental State, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(1): 146-162.

Unlike most of the pieces in the list above, neither of these explicitly engage with Lefebvre's work on the topic ... but as James' comment hints, the fact that I have applied this criteria has produced a list mostly restricted to northern theorists (although Marcelo's piece on the list above is an explicit attempt to rework Lefebvre's concept from the perspective of urban social movements in Latin America and Africa). Thanks for the heads up on those pieces James!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

London, July 31: "There'll be riots"

Part two on London ... check this video, a street vox pop with some young people about youth centre closures which was done by The Guardian on July 31, just a few days before the riots kicked off. Definitely worth watching all the way to the end.

And here's a follow-up The Guardian have done with Chavez Campbell, who appeared in that first video predicting the riots, taking us on a bit of a tour of his neighbourhood and talking about his own life in London...

British PM David Cameron: "we have to show a lot more love"

So, I know there's been a flood of opinion and some analysis of what's been happening on the streets of England in the last week. I don't have a whole lot to add to that. But in trying to wrap my head around what's going on, I've come across a few things that seem like they are worth sharing...

First, here's the full transcript of a speech given by current British Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2006, a few years before he was elected. It was referred to in a recent Guardian editorial as his "hug-a-hoodie" speech. It reads in part:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Augmented Reality Ad Takeover, NYC

I'm getting increasingly interested in the various possibilities afforded by new mobile media technologies for different forms of public address.

Here's an application of augmented reality that I can get behind!

A little over a week ago PublicAdCampaign and The Heavy Projects launched the AR I AD Takeover in Times Square, NY. The Augmented Reality Junaio channel used 5 separate ad campaigns to trigger their own replacement with the artwork of 5 of our favorite public space artists including, Ron English, John Fekner, PosterBoy, OX, and Dr. D.

Check out the short project video here...

Augmented Reality Advertising Takeover (AR | AD) from The Heavy Projects on Vimeo.

For more details, see the PublicAd Campaign website: