Encounters with law and critical urban studies: Reflections on Amin's telescopic urbanism

  • Datta A
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Providing a critical reflection on Ash Amin's ‘telescopic urbanism’ this piece suggests that despite a burgeoning scholarship on governmentality, critical urban studies has not taken into account the role of law in obstructing or facilitating the struggles for right to the city and urban commons. It argues that rights cannot be realised through top-down political imperatives or gargantuan social engineering models. Neither can they simply be a matter of subaltern resistance and social organisation among the urban poor against the state. It argues that for much of the urban poor, the politics around right to the city is often focused on a politics of entitlement that is based on concrete and symbolic encounters with law in urban spaces. These encounters change the ways that the urban poor rethink their approaches, aspirations and futures in the city with respect to state, law and urban citizenship. Put another way, exclusion from the city and its urban commons transforms the relations between a public right to the city and a more private and intimate right to gendered freedom and capacity in everyday life. The future of progressive urban studies will be to reverse its continued silencing of the private and intimate city and bridge the divisive boundaries it has created between state-citizen, public-private, city-slum and centre-periphery.

Author-supplied keywords

  • encounters with law
  • intimate city
  • right to the city
  • slum politics
  • urban citizenship
  • urban commons

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  • Ayona Datta

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