Spokesperson: Geert Castryck, Leipzig University
Co-organizer(s): Johan Lagae, Ghent University
Keywords: Urban citizenship | Space | Global urban history
Time period: Modern
Topic(s): Social | Other
Study area: More than one continent
Putting the city back into citizenship, this session highlights the spatial dimension of urban citizenship in cities around the globe. We explore the boundaries of citizenship, by looking at informal and formal ways by which groups, individuals or their intermediaries claim their right to the city; and by localizing the sites and spaces of aspiring, appropriating, and practicing urban citizenship.
Throughout history, countless city-dwellers did not enjoy the benefits of legal citizenship. Denizens, newcomers, historic minorities, colonial subjects, foreigners, undocumented migrants, refugees, minors etc. often did not bear full rights in the city. Yet, that did not prevent them from partaking in city life and appropriating the city. Sometimes supported, sometimes hindered by fellow townsmen, associations, or municipal institutions, they claimed access to the city and in so doing shaped the city no less than burghers, poorters or legal citizens did.
Putting the city back into citizenship (after Tom Hulme), this session particularly wants to highlight the spatial dimension of navigating urban citizenship. We do so by exploring the boundaries of citizenship, by looking at informal and formal ways by which groups, individuals or their intermediaries claim their right to urban territory, urban institutions and urban life; and by localizing the sites and spaces of aspiring, claiming and practicing citizenship.
In the use and production of urban space, city dwellers shape the city they live in, and they do so in cooperation or in confrontation with fellow townspeople, in hiding or in the open. The people under scrutiny are thereby confronted with spaces of threat and of denied access as well as with spaces of shelter, support and protection. Likewise, the spatial layout of the urban environment is both reflected in and a reflection of the spatial practices of city dwellers. Disputes over property, ownership and right of shelter mark the division between formal and informal, between scales of agency, levels of governance, social networks and spatial strategies, and thus become an arena for negotiating the boundaries of urban citizenship.
We invite papers about cities around the globe with focus on the 19th and 20th centuries and laying bare how attitudes and actions of urban citizens are reflected in and make use of urban space. Particular attention should go to people and groups who claim a degree of freedom or agency and use or shape loopholes in the system in order to navigate between regulations and arrangements on different scales and levels of government, thereby manipulating levels of control.