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Politics in the City-Inside-Out

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Abstract

Neoliberal restructuring has engendered significant economic and social changes. The advent of deregulation, diminished role of the state, and the crisis of social contract have meant that a vast number of subaltern groups are now left on their own to survive and better their lives. Consequently, a strong view in the current debates seems to suggest that neoliberal city is a lost city—where capital rules, the affluent enjoy, and the subaltern is entrapped; it is a city of glaring inequality and imbalance, where the ideal of the “right to the city” is all but vanished. While this conclusion enjoys much plausibility, I want to suggest in this paper that there is more to neoliberal urbanity than elite rule and subaltern's failure. For the new realities of these cities tend to engender a new discrete form of politics. Drawing on the recent urban transformation in the Middle East, the paper elaborates on this distinct politics by discussing how a key spatial feature of neoliberal city, what I call the “city-inside-out,” is likely to instigate “street politics” and inform the “political street.”

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