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Local and Urban Politics

E21 - The Right to the City

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 406

Chair/Président/Présidente : Meghan Joy (Concordia University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : John Sutcliffe (University of Windsor)

Urban Politics and Women’s Everyday Struggles in Public Spaces in Kathmandu Valley: Sujata Thapa-Bhattarai (University of Toronto)
Abstract: This article builds on calls for a closer examination of the role of urban politics and policy which have lost legitimacy of serving public goods and ensuring justice in Global South cities (Graham and Marvin, 2001). It contributes to the debate in three ways: first; by using the viewpoint of Kathmandu, the article casts a critical eye over assumptions that are often made about the role of urban politics and infrastructure, second; it relates to the debate on the ‘right to the city’ by exploring citizens’ role in realizing their right to the city through participation in the decision making processes; third, it explores the production of urban spaces through citizens’ everyday action and imaginations. By drawing upon 20 in-depth interviews, participant observations, and 156 surveys with women vendors in Kathmandu, I examine women’s struggle for the right to mobility, access to urban livelihood spaces, and acts of solidarity in the face of eroding role of urban politics in ensuring justice for urban poor. Further, I illuminate that urban poor mobilize to participate in decision-making processes in the city; and engage their everyday actions to assert claims over the use of public spaces (Roy, 2005). This paper also culls out policies for building gender just mobility and urban livelihood in the Global South cities. Graham S. and S. Marvin (2001) Splintering urbanism: networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition the urban condition. Routledge, London. Roy, A. (2005). Urban informality: Toward an epistemology of planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 71(2), 147-158.


The Neoliberal Logic of Toronto Policing: Kris Belben (York University)
Abstract: Policing in the neoliberal period, with its focus on law-and-order, has been about more than just the policing of behaviour. It has also consistently been about the policing and elimination of space for modes of living and expression that exist outside the liberal norm and which challenge cities as merely spaces of capital accumulation. This presentation focuses on policing in Toronto from the late 1990s onward through the implementation of the Ontario Safe Streets Act (SSA) to the G20. The SSA can be seen as one of the main expressions of the neoliberal 'broken windows' approach to policing, whereby “serious street crime flourishes in areas in which disorderly behaviour goes unchecked”: “one broken window becomes many” (Kelling and Wilson, 1982). Moreover, the City of Toronto has adopted bylaws which, while separate from the SSA, enforce similar logics of the elimination of spaces in which people must exist. While the SSA and bylaws continue to be a major part of policing in Toronto by regulating the poor on the streets, Toronto has also seen an intensification of policing in response to protest and dissent. This change is most clear in the case of the police response to the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. Ultimately, the presentation will demonstrate that while the changes in the form of policing in Toronto under neoliberalism are clear, a direct continuity exists between them through their logic of spatial elimination.