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Regeneration, Citizenship, and Justice in the American City since the 1970s


Aneta Dybska

This book investigates post-industrial American cities as sites of struggle where political identities are mobilized and new modes of citizenship are articulated. This interdisciplinary analysis gleans insights from anthropology, literary criticism, cultural studies, geography, political philosophy, and urban studies. Drawing on scholarly, journalistic, essayistic, and fictional texts, the author examines the linkages between urban regeneration policies, citizenship, and social justice in the neoliberal city. She foregrounds grassroots and official strategies of community building, civic revival and democratic governance, as well as the right to the city, localism, and sustainability as key discourses and practices of re-configuring and re-inhabiting the urban.

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Chapter Three The Right to the City and Homelessness


The task of scholars engaged in the ‘Right to the City’ movement is not just ongoing inquiry into what leads some to have more rights to the city than others, but the construction a set of morally defensible principles which might bring about the political will to do something about the class of inequalities so vividly written into the landscape of the neoliberal metropolis.

—Tom Slater, “Missing Marcuse,” p. 191

The violent reinscription of urban spaces in the late 1970s and 1980s was a harbinger of the neoliberal city and new forms of local financing and governance permitted by deregulation and competition. With the diminishing importance of the federal government in the management of metropolitan regions, decentralization of power, and fierce competition between cities/city-regions to attract private capital, American cities have become the locus of political and civil rights struggles that were once the prerogative of the nation-state. While municipal governments across the country joined in the race to attract new investment and engaged in profit-driven enterprises such as mass privatization of public land and property, diverse social groups within the city were put in a precarious position. Particularly the old ethnic neighborhoods underwent a major economic and cultural remapping as sites of gentrification. The new spatial order, forged by the logic of what David Harvey refers to as “accumulation by dispossession” (Rebel Cities 55), disempowered local communities and pushed them to the sidelines of public discourse. If in the immediate postwar period the...

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