The fight for social and political citizenship

In new book, Arjun Appadurai contributes chapter on the struggle for housing among India’s urban poor.

The struggle for secure housing among India’s urban poor is also a fight for social and political citizenship, argues Arjun Appadurai, Hertie School Professor of Anthropology and Globalisation, in his contribution to the new book “Urbaner Protest – Revolte in der neoliberalen Stadt” (Urban Protest – Revolt in the neoliberal city), published by Passagen Verlag. The book examines how urban social movements around the world have fundamentally changed in the past years.

Today, the urban poor face housing challenges that are interwoven with a web of social conditions, ranging from politics, finance, crime, architecture and real estate. In his chapter “Wohnen und Hoffnung” (Housing and hope), Appadurai examines the fundamental right to housing by focussing on the efforts of the urban poor in India in their fight for dignity and citizenship. He argues that insecure living conditions exclude the urban poor from participating in city life and puts their access to job opportunities, social networks and socialising at risk.

He explains that “secure housing is the bridge between political and social citizenship; it provides stability to participate in dynamic activities and transactions that define citizenship as an ongoing process and not a mere statistical fact.”

In addition to Appadurai, the book also includes chapters written by other renowned scholars and academics who reflect on urban protest and its various movements and discuss the challenges and opportunities for politics and democracy.

“The authors [in this book] examine cities and global streets as central places of struggle, where new forms of the social and political are forged, and where power, impotence and empowerment are reconfigured,” Ayse Caglar, Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vienna University and the editor of the book, writes in her introduction. “They show how urban protests have become a central part of the political terrain of current politics.”

Order a copy of the book (German) here.