Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

Possibilities of Trans-Local Organizing

In this module, you will learn about trans-local organizing through the example of Right to the City, a national alliance that fights displacement by gentrification. Trans-local networks such as Right to the City are rooted in leftist politics and composed of base-building organizations. They build power through focusing on the local. The transnationalization of production and social reproduction, from manufacturing industries to care work, is often seen as a critical roadblock to anti-capitalist organizing on ground. The chain of capitalist power is so fragmented and globalized, some argue, that state and capital cannot be held accountable.
Trans-local organizing proves otherwise. It connects local groups directly to each other and creates the conditions in which groups from different cities share time, resources, knowledge, and experiences to support each other’s local campaigns. Specific struggles take place at county and state level but are coordinated across city, state, and national boundaries. As you will hear in Tony Samara’s presentation about the successes of trans-local organizing, the Right to the City group in California organizes on three tracks: fighting for renters’ rights such as rent control and just cause eviction, promoting development without displacement, and working to bring land under community control outside the market. The readings will cover the Lefevbrian principles behind Right to the City and more in-depth discussions about the network’s work since inception. We will also pay attention to the emerging concept of the trans-local scale and how the trans-local is a unique scale at which solidarities are constructed through negotiating and rearticulating differences.  

Reading Suggestions

Leavitt, J., Samara, T. R., & Brady, M. (2009). The Right to the City Alliance: Time to democratize urban governance. Progressive Planning181, 4-10.

Fisher, R., Katiya, Y., Reid, C., & Shragge, E. (2013). We Are Radical: The Right to the City Alliance and the Future of Community Organizing. J. Soc. & Soc. Welfare40, 157.

Mayer, M. (2009). The ‘Right to the City’ in the context of shifting mottos of urban social movements. City13(2-3), 362-374.

Greiner, C., & Sakdapolrak, P. (2013). Translocality: Concepts, applications and emerging research perspectives. Geography Compass7(5), 373-384.

Castree, N., Featherstone, D., & Herod, A. (2008). Contrapuntal geographies: The politics of organizing across sociospatial difference. The Sage handbook of political geography, 305-321.

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