Handbook of Urban Geography
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Handbook of Urban Geography

Edited by Tim Schwanen and Ronald van Kempen

This collection brings together the latest thinking in urban geography. It provides a comprehensive overview of topical issues and draws on experiences from across the world. Chapters have been prepared by leading researchers in the field and cover themes as diverse as urban economies, inequalities and diversity, conflicts and politics, ecology and sustainability, and information technologies. The Handbook offers a valuable resource for students and researchers interested in cities and the urban in geography and across the wider social sciences.
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Chapter 24: Exploring insurgent urban mobilizations: from urban social movements to urban political movements?

Lazaros Karaliotas and Erik Swyngedouw

Abstract

This chapter seeks to explore some of the questions and challenges that the proliferation of urban insurgencies across the globe since 2011 raises for urban theory and practice. The chapter interrogates the political performativity of the vast literature on (urban) social movements and urban activism in light of these recent urban mobilizations and considers these insurgencies to be incipient urban political movements. These incipient urban political movements, we argue, call for a re-centring of ‘the urban political’, invite us to rethink the urban as a site of political encounter, interruption and experimentation; and urban insurgencies as the performative staging of new forms of democratization that nurture radical imaginaries of egalitarian urban being-in-common. This move, we maintain, also involves a theoretical shift of focus away from institutionalized politics, including the tactics, strategies and principles of organized urban social movements, towards a vantage point that considers other forms of emancipatory contestation and disruption.

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