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The right to the city

Cities can be equal parts seductive and threatening. Seductive in their promises to the individual of being part of something bigger; of upward mobility; of available sanctums of human creativity and culture; of a menu for varied appetites and a space for everyone (especially sexual minorities). Threatening in their usually elevated criminality; their dispersal of community; their naked expressions of rat race and money power as the baselines for survival; their lack of space for everyone (especially those on lower incomes).

Over half of the world’s population already lives in urban areas. This edition of New Internationalist explores the old idea of ‘the right to the city’ and finds how lines continue to be drawn across city maps depending on where cash and power reside. It features a lively interview with the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing who lays bare the commercial interests making city life unaffordable. It ranges from reportage from India on the fallout of seekers who fail to make it in the city to a fierce dialectic on the power grab behind mega sporting events in Rio to a personal journey along the graph of sexual identity against the cityscapes of Nigeria and South Africa.

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