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Harvey right to the city

“The Right to the City”


New Left Review 53: 23–40



In this brief essay, Harvey revives and expands Henri Lefebvre’s clarion call for the right to the city (see below). He describes urbanization as a process always structured by uneven accumulations of capital, in which large-scale infrastructure projects are used to stabilize and suppress class conflict, from Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris under Napoleon III to the mass suburbanization of the U.S. following World War II. This process is always accompanied by the dispossession of large numbers of urban poor. Harvey argues that the contemporary free market has only widened this class disparity. He asserts that the right to the city—the “freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities”—is a basic but neglected human right. This essay is just the tip of an expansive body of work. See also: Harvey, Social Justice and the City (University of Georgia Press: 2009 [1973]) and Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996).

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