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Urban movements and the genealogy of urban rights discourses: the case of urban protesters against redevelopment and displacement in Seoul, South Korea

Shin, Hyun Bang ORCID: 0000-0002-1103-9221 (2018) Urban movements and the genealogy of urban rights discourses: the case of urban protesters against redevelopment and displacement in Seoul, South Korea. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108 (2). 356 - 369. ISSN 1467-8306

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Identification Number: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1392844


Despite significant contributions made to progressive urban politics, contemporary debates on cities and social justice are in need of adequately capturing the local historical and socio-political processes of how people have come to perceive the concept of rights in their struggles against the hegemonic establishments. These limitations act as constraints on overcoming hegemony imposed by the ruling class on subordinate classes, and restrict a contextual understanding of such concepts as ‘the right to the city’ in non-Western contexts,undermining the potential to produce locally tuned alternative strategies to build progressive and just cities. In this regard,this paper discusses the evolving nature of urban rights discourses that were produced by urban protesters fighting redevelopment and displacement, paying a particular attention to the experiences in Seoul that epitomised speculative urban accumulation under the (neoliberalising) developmental state. Method-wise, the paper makes use of archival records (protesters’ pamphlets and newsletters), photographs and field research archives. The data are supplemented by the author’s in-depth interviews with housing activists and former evictees. The paper argues that the urban poor has the capacity to challenge the state repression and hegemony of the ruling class ideology; that the urban movements such as the evictees’ struggles against redevelopment are to be placed in the broader contexts of social movements;that concepts such as the right to the city are to be understood against the rich history of place-specific evolution of urban rights discourses; that cross-class alliance is key to sustaining urban movements.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 American Association of Geographers
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Asia Centre
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2017 13:07
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:38
Projects: NRF-2014S1A3A2044551
Funders: National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government

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