Annual RC21 Conference 2011

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings
Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research – Urban Studies
University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands

18. Social Justice and the Right to the City

An undeniable legacy of 1968 is the proclamation of the right to the city, which was formulated earlier by Henri Lefebvre, but came into its own with the events of 1968. The right to the city has informed urban theory and inspired urban justice movements ever since. In fact, its use has reached a scope and popularity no one had predicted. It made serious inroads into academic discussions, social movements with a variety of political tones and agendas as well as various levels of the state, and, in general, large bureaucratic organizations of the kind Lefebvre was so critical of. It is equally evoked in UN documents and founding texts of radical organizations, by different brands of officials and activists alike. The UNESCO has put together several high-profile conferences with the term in the title, the Brecht Forum in New York runs a Right to the City series, CUNY organizes teach-ins on the topic. The right to the city has become an all-encompassing slogan; it is easily applied to enfranchise people with respect to all decisions that are related to urban space. It has gone through a transnationalization of sorts and has become the staple of both various UN-affiliated organizations and radical social movements in the new millennium.

This panel intends to critically examine the controversial legacy of the slogan and the transnational practice of movements that define themselves with reference to it. We are looking for papers addressing questions like: Is such a rights-based discourse empowering or limiting in struggles for social justice? How does it reconfigure claim-making? How are the Right to the City movements and claims localized in various parts of the world?

Judit Bodnar, Departments of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, Budapest. Email:

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21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

10 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

1 March 2011
Registration open

15 May 2011
Deadline for early bird registration and for (some) hotel options

15 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011