City Living. Quill Kukla in discussion with researchers and students from architectural theory and philosophy

In City Living. How Urban Dwellers and Urban Spaces Make One Another. Quill R. Kukla builds upon work in geography, anthropology, urban planning, and several other disciplines to offer a systematic philosophical exploration of the nature of city dwelling and city living. Discussions on the right to the city, the wrong of gentrification, the challenge of repurposing a city, the co-dependence and co-creation of city spaces and city subjects are of interest to philosophers, architects, city planners, and all who love life in the city.

Final programme:

12:00-13:30  Antwerp Philosophy Lecture 'City Living'  by Prof. dr. Quill R Kukla (Georgetown University) author of the book City Living, OUP, 2022.

13:30-14:15 sandwich reception (offered by the Philosophy Department)

14:15-17:30 Ma-class on themes from the book City Living

        14:15 - 15:00 Drs. Dries Glorieux (King's College London) 'Benefiting from enduring injustice, the case of zoning'

        15:00 - 15:45 Dr. Pilar Lopez-Cantero (Tilburg University) 'Urban Displacement and Affective Injustice'

        15:45 - 16:15 coffee break

        16:15 - 17:30 panel discussion with Merel Talbi (VU Amsterdam), Kristien Hens (UAntwerp), Lara Schrijver (UAntwerp) moderated by Katrien Schaubroeck (UAntwerp)

Time: Monday May 15 2023

Location: S.R. 008  City Campus University of Antwerp (Rodestraat 14, 2000 Antwerp)

No registration needed. The APLecture is open for all.

Free attendance. The Ma-class is intended for students architectural theory and philosophy, but if you are interested in attending the Ma-class, feel free to get in touch with


City Living

Quill R Kukla

City Living is about urban spaces, urban dwellers, and how these spaces and people make, shape, and change one another. In this talk, I will describe some of the main themes and arguments of the book. I begin with a philosophical exploration of spatially embodied agency and of the specific forms of agency and spatiality that are distinctive of city living. I then explore how gentrification is enacted and experienced at the level of embodied agency, arguing that gentrifying spaces are contested territories that shape and are shaped by their dwellers. I introduce the notion of repurposed cities, which are cities materially designed to support one sociopolitical order, but in which that order collapsed, leaving new dwellers to use the space in new ways. Finally, I focus most of my attention on the last chapter of the book, which explores the notion of the right to the city, and asks what would be involved in creating a city that enabled the agency and flourishing of all its diverse inhabitants. 

Benefiting from enduring injustice: the case of zoning

Dries Glorieux

In his book Should Race Matter? David Boonin takes aim at benefiting-based accounts of reparations for historical injustice. He raises a powerful objection which I shall refer to as the historical common-source problem. This objection holds that there is no normative significance to a common historical injustice between benefits and harm in the present. I argue that despite its intuitive appeal the problem does not present an insurmountable barrier to such accounts. I do this by developing a novel conception of benefiting which is capable of addressing the problem. I call this conception benefiting from enduring injustice. A historical injustice becomes enduring when laws enacted with direct discriminatory intent in the past stay in existence and over time become instances of indirect discrimination. As instances of indirect discrimination they have a disparate impact in the present on the members of the socially salient group originally targeted by their passage. I argue that this disparate impact benefits beneficiaries in the present and that as a consequence of their receipt and subsequent retention of this benefit they incur remedial duties in the present, thus escaping the historical common-source problem. In the second half of the paper I apply this account of benefiting to the topic of zoning. I show that zoning had directly discriminatory intentions from its inception during the Jim Crow era and that it has a well-documented disparate impact on minorities today. I conclude by outlining what the beneficiaries’ remedial duties might consist of.

Urban displacement and affective injustice

Pilar Lopez-Cantero

Urban researchers have increasingly paid attention to affectivity (Amin and Thrift 2002, Anderson and Holden 2008, Samson 2021), but the emotional dimension of urban injustices has been largely underexplored. Here, I focus on the phenomenon of urban displacement, and argue that gentrification is a form of affective injustice: the unjust deprivation of fundamental affective goods (Gallegos 2022). Following Kukla (2022) I focus on residents who have not yet been displaced, but have lost their ability to feel at home in their neighbourhoods due to a gentrifying process.

Some say gentrification is always bad and others say it’s good (Freeman). Here I determine one feature of bad gentrification. Whether this applies to all gentrification is something that needs to be studied empirically since it involves gathering more data in how residents feel. Also it depends whether this is a good enough reason to reject all kinds of justification — maybe sometimes it’s necessary to commit one injustice to avoid a bigger one?

Archer and Matheson (2022) identify affective rights as ‘rights to feel’, an entitlement to certain emotional experiences whose violation constitutes an injustice. The right to feel at home, I argue, is one of these affective rights that is violated in gentrifying processes. However, other types of displacement, such as the one created by mass tourism or heavy incoming cross-cultural migration, also render people unable to feel at home. But is an older resident whose ‘feeling at home’ is disrupted by the arrival of refugees suffering affective injustice? What about the middle class resident who is priced out due to the proliferation of short term rentals?

The difference between middle classes that cannot afford rent and the lower class resident of a neighbourhood that is gentrified is that the latter experiences fear of homelessness, or even being expelled from the city altogether (Putnam 2021). This emotional feature differentiates gentrification displacement from displacement due to non-gentrifying mass tourism. While both violate the right to feel at home, only the former violates the right to live without fear of homelessness.

The case of residents who cannot feel at home due to heavy incoming cross-cultural migration can also be differentiated from gentrification displacement by pointing at a different type of affective injustice that Archer and Matheson (2020: 771) call ‘emotional imperialism’: “a powerful group imposing aspects of its culture’s emotional norms and standards on another less powerful group whilst at the same time marking out the other culture’s emotional norms and standards as deviant and inferior”. In the case of gentrification, Kukla identifies a feeling of being ‘in need of being fixed’ experienced by displaced people, who see their social practices and emotional expression seen as inappropriate or ‘too much’. This need to be fixed is not experienced by the residents of neighbourhood with new migrant population or in the residents displaced by mass tourism.

What makes gentrification an affective injustice, I conclude, is that gentrification constitutes a form of emotional imperialism; which is distinct from non-gentrifrying mass tourism through the experience of fear; and which together result in an inability to feel at home. Focusing on the affective aspect of gentrification, then, reveals a form of injustice that is not dependant on (but is complementary to) discussions on urban injustice based on socioeconomic inequality. At the same time, it allows us to distinguish between different forms of urban displacement, recognizing that although they may have similar affective components, not all constitute an injustice.


Amin, A. & Thrift, N. (2002). Cities: Reimagining the Urban. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Anderson, B., & Holden, A. (2008). Affective Urbanism and the Event of Hope. Space and Culture, 11(2), 142–159.

Archer, A., & Matheson, B. (2022). Commemoration and Emotional Imperialism. The Journal of Applied Philosophy 39 (5): 742-777.

Freeman, L (2011). There Goes the Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Gallegos, F. (2022). Affective injustice and fundamental affective goods. Journal of Social Philosophy 53: 185-201.

Kukla, Q (2022). City Living: How Urban Spaces and Urban Dwellers Make One Another. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Samson, K. (2021). We Still Do Not Know What a City Can Do: Modulation of Affect in Urbanism and Spatial Politic. In B. M. S. Thomsen, J. Kofoed, & J. Fritsch (Eds.), Affects, Interfaces, Events (pp. 245-273). Imbricate! Press.