Call for Papers

Dear Critters,

We urgently need 2 additional articles to complete the  submission for a Special Issue on ‘Gendered Rights to the City, Migration and Citizenship’ in the journal Cities. The special issue has already been agreed.  Please send us an abstract by 16th October for consideration (Elena Vacchelli and Eleonore Kofman The deadline for submission of the full article (6000 words) is mid-January 2016.

Gendered Rights to the City, Migration and Citizenship

The proposed special issue stems from two sessions we organised at a recent conference at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, organised in occasion of the AAG in Chicago by the IGU Gender Commission , 19-20 April 2015. The session called for original conceptualisations of the Right to the City, where this fascinating theoretical tool and the questions it raises, are used to shift perspectives from the national scale to urban politics. The right to the city can be claimed by those who contribute to its daily production and reproduction and are therefore empowered by it. There is an increasing recognition of the centrality of the city in understanding these issues that go beyond the nation-state as a framework of analysis. The ‘resurgence’ of Lefebvre’s Right to the City is in part linked to the increasing recognition that the city provides a more relevant focus to explore social relations as well as socio-economic and cultural issues than the nation state (Massey, 2005). Purcell (2002) suggests that Lefebvre’s right to the city is an argument for reworking both the social relations of capitalism and the current structure of liberal democratic citizenship.   Lefebvre’s idea is a call for a radical restructuring of social, political, and economic relations, both in the city and beyond. However we know that the Lefebvrian notion of the right to the city has not paid sufficient attention to patriarchal relations (Fenster 2005) and to other intersectional dimensions of social exclusion.

In our reading of the work of Lefebvre, the gendered right to the city aims at widening the idea of citizenship to encompass a bundle of social, political and economic rights such as participation, access to resources,  right to housing and welfare, having one’s work paid for and recognised, and one’s voice heard and not silenced. Working class, precarious, migrant and refugee women carry a disproportionate burden in having to look after their children, the elderly, and by having to negotiate (under) paid or temporary work with care and domestic commitments.  Migrants and refugees, in particular, face a wide range of barriers to a dignified life when facing de-skilling, unprotected labour, domestic abuse and other forms of gender violence at a time when institutional support is diminishing and citizenship is becoming a central factor for the eligibility to services (Martin 2013). Many migrant workers are excluded from a range of protective workplace regulations and access to welfare benefits in a way that reinforces devaluation of their social reproductive labour.

Exploring gendered rights to the city should be envisaged as an articulation between gender, ethnicity, race and class. In other words, gendered rights to the city are determined at the intersection with other social categories (Yuval-Davis, 2006) and social divisions. Anthias (1998) further highlights the importance of looking at what happens at the local level, such as the city and its specificities, when dealing with the question of ‘social divisions as parameters of social inequality and exclusion’ (p. 530).  The range of papers in the proposed special issue addresses current gaps in relation to the broad theoretical framework offered by the gendered ‘Right to the city’, migration and citizenship.  The papers draw on a rich variety of international contexts and highlight that migrant and refugee women are increasingly faced with rising demands for services and other unregulated work domains which situate them in increasingly unequal, vulnerable and disempowered positions. Yet, we see migrants as resilient subjects able to claim and negotiate their right to the city on an ongoing basis by developing strategies to respond to challenges, adapting and re-inventing their right to the city using creative and solidarity-oriented means.

Many thanks,

Dr Elena Vacchelli

Senior Lecturer in Gender and Migration

Social Policy Research Centre

Department of Criminology and Sociology

Middlesex University

The Burroughs, Hendon

London NW4 4BT

Tel: +44 (0)20 84114103