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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

My parents were leftwing once, 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 self-exiled 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.

Protecting the ‘lungs of West Africa’

Palm-oil corporations are threatening the rich rainforests Liberians depend on. Veronique Mistiaen hears from environmental...

Is pacifism appropriate for today’s world?

Can pacifism work as a strategy against violence and injustice? Tim Gee and Rahila Gupta tussle it out.

Time is money

Lack of punctuality in India is sometimes given a ‘spiritual’ spin by Western observers, but underneath this comic veneer is a...

Queer cities

The city can provide cover and anonymity to those who seek it, explains David Nnanna Ikpo.

Check your passport privilege

Nanjala Nyabola explains the weighty, 'anti-citizen' African bureaucracies that have their origins in the colonial period.

Shoot first, ask questions later

In Rio de Janeiro, even bystanders are falling victim to brutal policing tactics, reports Leonardo Sakamoto.

What if... we worked less?

Aidan Harper makes the case for a new politics of time.

Letter from Dhaka: The bangle seller

Despite having bought colourful bangles for over a decade, Parsa Sanjana Sajid wonders who makes them and at what cost.

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