Friday, March 27, 2009

The City from Below

I'm a bit late in posting this, but this weekend here in Baltimore, beginning this evening, is the The City from Below conference. Numerous workshops and panel discussions are planned, with scheduled participants including, among many others, David Harvey, George Caffentzis, Sylvia Federici, and numerous local, regional, and national groups committed in various ways to fighting back and taking back the city. This is from the description on the site's main page:

We are committed in organizing this conference to a horizontal framework of participation, one which allows us to concretely engage with and support ongoing social justice struggles. What we envision is a conference which isn't just about academics and other researchers talking to each other and at a passive audience, but one where some of the most inspiring campaigns and projects on the frontlines of the fight for the right to the city (community anti-gentrification groups, transit rights activists, tenant unions, alternative development advocates, sex worker's rights advocates, prison reform groups) will not just be represented, but will concretely benefit from the alliances they build and the knowledge they gain by attending.

At the same time, we also want to productively engage those within the academic system, as well as artists, journalists, and other researchers. It is a mistake to think that people who spend their lives working on urban geography and sociology, in urban planning, or on the history of cities have nothing to offer to our struggles. At the same time, we recognize that too often the way in which academics engage activists, if they do so at all, is to talk at them. We are envisioning something much different, closer to the notion of "accompaniment". We want academics and activists to talk to each other, to listen to each other, and to offer what they
each are best able to. Concretely, we're hoping to facilitate this kind of dynamic by planning as much of the conference as possible as panels involving
both scholars and organizers.


  • Gentrification/uneven development
  • Policing and incarceration
  • Tenants rights/housing as a right
  • Public transit
  • Urban worker's rights
  • Foreclosures/financial crisis
  • Public education
  • Slots/casinos/regressive taxation
  • Cultural gentrification
  • Underground economies
  • Reclaiming public space
  • The right to the city
  • Squatting/Contesting Property Rights
  • Urban sustainability
  • It sounds like it will be a fun, informative, potentially exciting weekend. We hope to be able to take in what we can. If you're anywhere near Baltimore and can make it, please try to come out and take part.

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