City and the Grassroots

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"As Manuel Castells (1983) powerfully demonstrated in The City and the Grassroots, resistance to capitalism has always had an urban character, whether in the shape of workers struggles and unionism, or cities as a space of refuge, gathering, and alternative lifestyles and subcultures. These disparate movements have campaigned for rights to live in the city, and often struggle around a wide range of different claims, as the burgeoning literature on “rights to the city” has shown (eg Harvey 2008; Mitchell 2003). As formulated by Henri Lefebvre (1991, translated in Kofman and Lebas 1996:158), the right to the city is not just about material access to urban space, but “a renewed right to urban life.”

This double affirmation—of both access to the city and active participation of a range of groups in the production of the city as a lived reality—provides both a crucial counterpoint to assemblages of enclosure based around urban walling, and an affirmation of an ever-expanding urban commons constituted by multiplicity and difference. But in making such an affirmation we would wish to avoid any division between a dynamic, global enclosure on the one hand, and a localised, territorial struggle for the commons on the other. As David Featherstone (2008) reminds us, struggles for the commons have not historically been exclusively confined to local places, but have involved a range of translocal spatialities that form solidarities across multiple sites. This positions the commons as an active project of assembling and generating translocal spaces and identities that respond to but exceed the exploitation of capital." (Source: Space,Subjectivity,_Enclosure_and_the_Commons