The Politics of the Encounter is a spirited
interrogation of the city as a site of both theoretical inquiry and
global social struggle. The city, writes Andy Merrifield, remains
"important, virtually and materially, for progressive politics."
And yet, he notes, more than forty years have passed since Henri
Lefebvre advanced the powerful ideas that still undergird much of
our thinking about urbanization and urban society. Merrifield
rethinks the city in light of the vast changes to our planet since
1970, when Lefebvre's seminal Urban Revolution was first published.
At the same time, he expands on Lefebvre's notion of "the right to
the city," which was first conceived in the wake of the 1968
student uprising in Paris.
We need to think less of cities as "entities with borders and clear
demarcations between what's inside and what's outside" and
emphasize instead the effects of "planetary urbanization," a
concept of Lefebvre's that Merrifield makes relevant for the ways
we now experience the urban. The city-from Tahrir Square to Occupy
Wall Street-seems to be the critical zone in which a new social
protest is unfolding, yet dissenters' aspirations are transcending
the scale of the city physically and philosophically. Consequently,
we must shift our perspective from "the right to the city" to "the
politics of the encounter," says Merrifield. We must ask how
revolutionary crowds form, where they draw their energies from,
what kind of spaces they occur in-and what kind of new spaces they
Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology, Political Science
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