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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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Included in this issue

Progress and its discontents

According to Bill Gates, Steven Pinker and the like, the world has never been better and global poverty is shrinking. Jason...

Spectacle and reality in Rio

Sporting mega-events purport to boost civic pride and economic growth. But their true legacy is one of rampant gentrification,...

How private equity eroded the right to housing

The UN expert on housing explains how, almost overnight, private equity firms became the biggest landlords in the world.

The radical film review

Malcolm Lewis reviews the latest releases in radical cinema.

Mixed media: music

From Palestinian hip hop to the spoken word wizardry of South London, Malcolm Lewis and Louise Gray review sounds from around...

The architecture of cruelty

Architecture is never neutral, explains Laith Kharus Whitwham. But can it be made to truly serve the public?

The radical book review

Jo Lateu and Peter Whittaker weigh up the latest releases in radical publishing.

Small city, big dreams

India’s rapidly expanding cities attract young dreamers like magnets. Snigdha Poonam observes how the horizon of promise keeps...

The writer bringing survivor stories to light

Leesa Gazi speaks to Subi Shah about Rising Silence — her film about the women sexually assaulted during the Bangladesh...

Am I doomed to become conservative?

Agony Uncle responds to a troubled 20-something-year-old who worries he’ll lose his radical commitments as he gets older.

The Saudi street artist speaking truth to power

Ms Saffaa talks to Alessio Perrone about the inspiration for her murals and why Saudi women need a different narrative.

Five paths to combatting climate breakdown

Climate breakdown is in the spotlight. Danny Chivers offers five ways to seize the moment.

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