Right to the City (If You Want It) : Marshall Berman and Urban Culture

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Millington, Gareth Robert (2015)

This article examines how Marshall Berman’s writings on urban culture and politics illuminate and extends our understanding of the role that culture plays in Henri Lefebvre's emancipatory notion of the right to the city, a role that tends to be underplayed by contemporary critical urbanists. The article begins by summarising Berman’s arguments about culture and the right to the city. Berman understands culture in two ways that are helpful. The first is urban culture as spectacle and the second is culture as appropriation. The article then reviews Berman’s account of the birth of hip-hop from the South Bronx in order to demonstrate how urban culture is imbricated in the right to the city before discussing the implications and challenges posed by Berman’s arguments.
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