The Right to the City in the 21st Century


Ansvarlig / contact

Time and place


Programme

  • The Right to the City in the 21st Century – an introduction
    Einar Braathen, NIBR, OsloMet
  • Human Rights and the city: Engaging with the ‘the cry from the streets’?
    Peris Jones, University of Oslo
  • Indigenous Rights to the City: Dismantling Settler-Colonial and Neo-Liberal Exclusion in Perth, Western Australia
    Peter Dawson, University of Oslo
  • Accessibility and social inequalities for cycling in Oslo: Whom do we plan and build bicycling infrastructure for?
    Trijntje (Tineke) de Jong, Institute of Transport Economics (TØI)
  • The Exclusiveness of Temporary Urbanism
    Per Gunnar Røe, University of Oslo
  • Q&A, discussion

About the session

The session deals with the topic of the Right to the City. Henri Lefebvre’s seminal ‘Le droit a la ville’ (1968) inspired urban studies as well as radical urban planning strategies and praxis. The concept became, subsequently, an important foundation also for social movement activism in many cities, particularly in South European and Latin American cities.

This session invites scholars and engaged citizens to a dialogue about the Right to the City (RTC) agenda and its relevance, or irrelevance, to the current Scandinavian context.

Henri Lefebvre’s seminal work on The Right to the City (‘Le droit a la ville’, 1968) has been a major inspiration for urban studies as well as radical urban planning strategies and praxis. The concept became an important foundation also for social movement activism in many cities, particularly in South European and Latin American cities.

The RTC can be approached differently depending on whether we engage with the term academically, in policy or in everyday lives. Hence, there are two interpretations of the concept in operation: one the one hand, Lefebvre’s utopian claim for a transformation of the existing city based on ‘autogestion’ or a radically decentralized, participatory institutional framework. On the other hand, the more pragmatic claim for social inclusion in the city as it exists – a right to participate in the decisions that produce urban space and the ability of urban dwellers to participate in the decisions concerning the city with the aim of a more inclusive city.

In policy terms, the latter more pragmatic interpretation seems to prevail. The RTC is no longer only a slogan for activists and urban social movements, but a principle for global policy institutions and national policy-makers. Certain countries, such as Brazil, has taken the lead in incorporating the RTC into national law and made it the basic principle of urban planning. In Europe, a network of ‘cities for change’ fronted by the Municipality of Barcelona have been confronting current austerity policies and formulating inclusive housing and immigrant policies with reference to the RTC. Making inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient cities is one of the new global sustainable development goals. Equity, social justice and right to the city are key terms in the New Urban Agenda adopted at UN’s 3rd Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development – HABITAT III –in Quito, Ecuador in 2016. The adoption of the term Right to the City by UN agencies and other international actors have linked the concept more explicitly to the international human rights regime.

This development has not been adequately addressed in Norway and Scandinavia. While UN’s New Urban Agenda is a source of inspiration for many planners and planning processes in Scandinavian municipalities, the topic of the Right to the City is – apparently – not on the agenda of politicians, civil society actors and city planners.

We therefore called for papers and oral presentations from people from different disciplines – e.g. political science, sociology, human geography and social anthropology – as well as on the basis of practical experiences from various cities. The issues to be discussed may include:

  • RTC globally: have the original radical ideas of Lefebvre been weakened when they have been adopted by international NGOs and organizations. Or does the RTC agenda open up new spaces for urban citizens to make claims upon the state, thereby creating new types of social and political conflicts in the cities?
  • RTC in Norway and Scandinavia: Are many of the issues in the Right to the City ignored in public planning debate and planning? Or are many of the issues embedded in the RTC dealt with adequately, but in other framings? What does this state of art tell about the Scandinavian context?

There will be a short introduction to the theme by Einar Braathen (OsloMet) and Peris Jones (UoO), followed by paper presentations and discussions.