The Vortex of Rights: ‘Right to the City’ at a Crossroads

Mehmet Barış Kuymulu

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Vol. 37.3, May, 2013. pp. 923-940.

This article is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, comrade, and mentor Neil Smith


The right to the city concept has recently attracted a great deal of attention from radical theorists and grassroots activists of urban justice, who have embraced the notion as a means to analyze and challenge neoliberal urbanism. It has, moreover, drawn considerable attention from United Nations (UN) agencies, which have organized meetings and outlined policies to absorb the notion into their own political agendas. This wide-ranging interest has created a conceptual vortex, pulling together discordant political projects behind the banner of the right to the city. This article analyzes such projects by reframing the right to the city concept to foreground its roots in Marxian labor theory of value. It argues that Lefebvre’s formulation of the right to the…

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