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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium presents Prof. Margaret Kohn

The Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium is proud to present Prof. Margaret Kohn from the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Her presentation titled "The Right to Occupancy and the Right to the City". The Colloquium will be held on Friday April 19th from 1:30-3:00 in Social Sciences Tower room 1314.

When: Friday April 19th from 1:30-3:00pm
Where: Social Sciences 1314

Friday, April 19th the Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium, in conjunction with the Department of Sociology, and with the support of the Coca-Cola Activity Grant, is proud to present Professor Margaret Kohn from the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Her presentation, "The Right to Occupancy and the Right to the City," is part of her work in progress, and she has generously agreed to circulate some reflections that are an extended version of her talk and part of her ongoing work. These reflections are attached, and the abstract is below. The Colloquium will meet from 1:30-3:00 in the Lippincott Room (Social Sciences Tower 1314). Coffee will be served. All are welcome.
Abstract: In a famous scene in Democracy in America, Tocqueville described the removal of the Choctaw Indians as both tragic and inevitable. Since Tocqueville's time, scholars have criticized the normative and legal rationales for the displacement of indigenous communities from traditional lands (Hendrix 2008, Tully 2000, Williams 1990, Pateman and Mills 2007, Turner 2006). Yet other forms of forced removal have not received similar attention. This paper poses the question whether the displacement of urban dwellers from public housing projects or gentrifying neighborhoods should be viewed as unjust. In the literature on indigenous rights, scholars have introduced the concept of "a right to occupancy" (Stilz 2012, Moore 2012, Kolers 2009). The right to occupancy describes a people's right to live in a particular area and is distinct from the right to property or territorial jurisdiction. The right to occupancy seems like a promising way to think about displacement in an urban context. In this paper, I draw on the literature on native land rights in order to examine the whether the theoretical concepts might also illuminate "the right to the city." In order to explore this question I present an overview of some theoretical arguments about the wrong of displacement that were developed to address indigenous land claims. Next, I examine the case of the demolition of the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago and highlight some similarities and differences between the indigenous and urban experiences of displacement. Finally, I will conclude that the right to occupancy helps illuminate Henri Lefebvre's provocative but under-theorized call to assert a "right to the city." It also provides a theoretical justification of public policies such as rent stabilization, public housing, and on-site replacement of demolished public housing units.
Please see attached reflections.
Kohn, Right to the City.docx