Programme du séminaire « Repenser le droit à la ville depuis les villes du Sud » (2014/2015)

Laboratoire CESSMA (2014-2015) – axe « villes et urbanisation »
Olympe de Gouges, rue A. Einstein, 75013, salle 805 (8è étage)

Organisation : Marianne Morange & Amandine Spire

Vendredi 7 novembre 2014 : 14h-17h

Karen E. Till, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland Maynooth. Memory-Work, Caring for Place and the Right to the City: Lessons from the Global South
(séance organisée par Pauline Guinard)

Critical analyses of urban space that privilege representations of the city as property ignore the complex spatialities and temporalities of the lived city for most residents in the world, thus limiting our understanding of the city, as well as the possibilities for urban change and more just futures. In recent years, postcolonial and indigenous scholars have called for radical retheorizations of ‘the city’ to understand how to transform ongoing legacies of urban inequality, spatial segregation and displacement. They call for a deeper appreciation of the lived realities of most of the inhabitants of our world.

When cities marked by past structures of violence and exclusion are theorized as wounded and as environments that offer their residents care (Till, 2008, 2013), understanding the ‘right to the city’ must include intergenerational, environmental and place-based rights. Building upon these discussions and based upon my ethnographic research in Berlin, Bogotá, Cape Town, Minneapolis, and Roanoke, I examine how residents, artists, educators and activists ask us to reconsider the meanings of the ‘right to the city’ through their practices of memory-work and a place-based ethics of care. I describe how residents communicate their experiences of place and the city as inhabited, an understanding based upon psychic attachments, materialies, bodily and social memories, and fragile social ecologies across generations.

Lundi 8 Decembre 2014 : 9h30-12h

Mehmet BariŞ Kuymulu, anthropologue, Middle East Technical University
The Vortex of Rights: ‘Right to the City’ at a Crossroads
(Séance organisée par Myriam Houssay)

The spark that drew Istanbul into a fire of protest and uprising was initially set off by a modest “sit in” staged against the planned destruction of a historical public park, an urban commons, in order to make way for a shopping mall in Istanbul. Following heavy police violence against the protestors, who were described by the government as being a little more than a few looters and extremists, the urban centers of Turkey saw a full-fledged uprising. Following the path of this social mobilization flowing from Gezi Park to larger geographical scales of the neighborhood, the urban, and the national, the first part of the talk analyzes the expanding political geography of the uprising, and makes a case for the effectiveness and significance of politics of scale for claiming the right to the city.

The second part of the talk focuses on novel forms of political activism that sprung from Gezi Park and spread across the urban Turkey like the uprising itself. Neighborhood assemblies, or as the people call them, park forums, were unprecedented both in terms of the political form they have taken, and the degree of popular participation in them. Forums provided the people with a new space of political engagement outside the familiar venues such as political parties and NGOs. I shall argue that park forums embody a desire for direct democracy, for enacting new solidarities, and provided people spaces to practice and experiment politics rather than simply talking about it. But above all, park forums represent a popular will to redefine what living together in the city means, the meaning of the collectivity and solidarity; they represent an attempt by the people to redefine the right to urban life outside of the neoliberal imposition, that is, individual self-interest, market hegemony and commodification of life in its every aspect.

By analyzing the right to the city claim mobilized in Turkey during and after the uprising, I want to make an argument about the dialectics within the process of claim-making over the city, between spontaneous appropriation of urban space and assertion of the right to centrality on the one hand, and long term sustained political organizing on the other. The dialectics I am talking about here are not given; rather, they must be established through political practice and organizing. In a nutshell, I argue that the two sides of the dialectics do not present a choice to be made for those who want to make a transformative right to the city claim. A successful right to the city claim should mobilize both sides of the opposition and keep the dialectical tension between the two alive during the claim making. More specifically, the urban uprising following Gezi Park protests in Turkey shows, I argue, unless successful appropriation of urban space is accompanied and followed by sustained political organizing towards more durable organizational forms, the radical transformative potential that is glimpsed as a possibility during the appropriation of urban space can hardly be realized.

Vendredi 16 Janvier 2015 : 9h30-12h

Walter Nicholls, sociologue, Université d’Amsterdam
« Rights through the City : the Fight for Immigrant Rights One Street Corner at Time »
(séance organisée par Sophie Didier)

 This presentation addresses the limits of the concept of “rights to the city” for understanding the role of cities in social movements. It suggests that the concept is useful for understanding how “urban specific” grievances, and how these grievances can spawn mobilizations for more equal rights to actual cities. In spite of its obvious merits, the presentation argues that such a concept blinds scholars to understanding how cities are strategic spaces in broader rights struggles.

Through the case of immigrant activism in the United States (especially the case of immigrant day laborers), the presentation maintains that cities have long been a frontline space for restricting general rights to immigrants in receiving countries. States restrict the rights of immigrants in countries by placing restrictions on access to core reproductive functions, which are located in cities: places to live, work, relax, learn, etc. Fights for housing, safe places to sell one’s labor, a place to go to school have therefore been about asserting a right to the city as a means to obtain basic rights in the country. The city has not only been a space for triggering grievances and struggles for broader rights, it is also a space that contains dense networks of resources, support institutions, and allies. It is an enabling space that makes it possible for broad based rights claims to be made in cities and countries. The city is therefore not an end in its own right (rights to the city) but a strategic space through which broader claims for rights emerge.

Vendredi 13 février 2015 : 9h30-12h

Mathieu Hilgers, socio-anthropologue, Associate Professor, LAMC, Université Libre de Bruxelles
(séance organisée par Armelle Choplin)

Les petites villes d’Afrique demeurent à la périphérie des intérêts du champ des études urbaines. Pourtant majorité des citadins du contiennent vivent dans de petits centres urbains qui, dans le contexte de la décentralisation et de l’expansion du capitalisme néolibéral, connaissent des transformations politiques majeures. Cette communication propose de comparer les modalités de contestations et de résistances dans trois localités qui occupent chacune une position spécifique dans la géographie du capitalisme. Une ville minière au cœur des flux des matières premières, une destination touristique connectée aux dynamiques de l’économie culturelle globalisée et une ville plus isolée dont la destinée est d’abord et avant tout liées à des réseaux politiques. Dans un premier temps la communication propose d’établir un cadre analytique permettant de comparer ces petites localités afin d’identifier ensuite si ces centres urbains constituent des espaces sociaux où se déploient des dynamiques politiques spécifiques, ou plus aisées à identifier que dans les grandes villes, et d’établir leurs potentialités


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