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The Insurgent City explores contemporary urban social movements and their relationship to the city. With the streets of Athens, Madrid and Cairo staging globally significant events, the section explores the political and spatial claims of the cities social movements, and asks how we might think of a ‘right’ to the city emerging from such movements.

Ross Domoney. All rights reserved.

The shadow citizenry

The shadow citizenry is a territorial reserve army of foot soldiers, who want in but are forced out; often defiant yet somehow disunited, disgruntled and raging in a global civil war of austerity and high frequency piracy.

The urban paradox

As Cities in Conflict goes on hiatus, I take a look back at the past fourteen months of publishing articles, film, photo-essays, mappings and infographics on the series, and comment on where urbanism is today: stuck between logics of saviourism and withdrawal.

On violence and protest in Brazil

While media coverage of Brazil's urban protests continues to focus on Molotov cocktails and smashed windows, the fight against police violence, repression and institutional racism continues.

Designed conflict territories

As the traditional role of the commons is lost to proprietary, securitised technology and authoritarian control, could designed conflict territories provide a radically different social platform where agonistic conflict could play out?

Focus E15: the young mothers' struggle for universal housing

For more than six months, a small group of young, homeless mothers have been battling for decent and secure social housing for everyone. The mothers highlight an emerging problem facing thousands across the country: it's getting very hard to find a place to live. Today the women will hand in their petition to City Hall.

The Free Fare Movement comes to Rio

On 6th February, Rio's military police clashed with thousands of protestors calling for free movement in the city. What caused the fare-hike and why is the state so violently defending it?

"There is Marikana everyday in South Africa" - an interview with Abahlali baseMjondolo

Film: Struggling for the right to decent housing and against the criminalisation of poverty, South African shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo face severe police repression. Here S'bu Zikode outlines the lethal consequences of police militarisation and the ANC's political capture of the police.

Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement

For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) have responded to a national housing crisis through grassroots organising and direct action. To this day the movement has prevented over 800 evictions across the country. Here Carlos Delclós interviews PAH activist Elvi Mármol.

Twelve bullets in a man’s body, twelve more in a collective fantasy

Cities have emerged as a key site of popular struggle in post-apartheid South Africa. But with the ANC responding to independent organisation in an increasingly violent and repressive manner the future of these struggles is deeply uncertain.

São Paulo: the city and its protest

While the recent protests in São Paulo are made up of a cross-section of Paulite society 'waking up' to social injustice, it is young people from the urban periphery, those which have 'never slept' who dominate the demonstrations, demanding access, freedom and a new kind of urban living.

Football, politics and protest in Brazil

The protests on the streets of Brazilian cities are by no means anti-Brazil (or even anti-football). Rather, they are unquestionably patriotic: people believe that Brazilian public education, healthcare, and democracy should be every bit as admirable as the national football team.

Copa pra quem?

In Belo Horizonte, under the slogan "Copa pra quem?" (Whose Cup?) thousands have taken to the streets, occupied and set-up neighbourhood assemblies to reclaim their city from World Cup forces.

The demonstration games

Recent protests over a bus fare increase signal a major shift in Brazilian society as the growing middle class demands social justice. But what future is there for a movement without leadership or clear direction?

Fraudulent democracy and urban stasis in Turkey

Turkey's urban citizens are standing up against authoritarian governance, and for their right to the city, their right to difference, and their right to resist the top-down imposition of moral and spatial orders.

We take back what's ours!

We are the resistance. We are not victims. We are citizens with a duty to defend our commons, and we will not bargain.

Istanbul in lockdown

Another sleepless night in Istanbul as thousands of people take to the streets to oppose Erdogan's increasingly brutal regime.

Husby and territorial stigma in Sweden

This statement appeared at the beginning of June in the Swedish broadsheet SVD, calling for a public investigation into the recent uprisings in Swedish suburbs.

The pyres of Spring

The riots which besieged Stockholm's suburbs in late May, are not indicative of some ‘exclusion’ from mainstream Swedish society, but of the absence of society itself.

Today we are all someone new!

Reclaiming Taksim has shattered AKP's hegemony in deciding what a square is supposed to mean for us citizens, because Taksim is now what the Resistance wants it to mean: our public square.

Reclaiming life in the precarious city

Despite the recent crackdown on squatting in the UK and Europe, across the Global North we are now witnessing the slow emergence of an alternative politics of housing that seeks to challenge the pieties of neoliberal restructuring, and re-think ways of inhabiting cities.

Turkish hopes for a new beginning

Whether or not the protestors currently occupying Istanbul's Taksim square can evolve into an effective, open and progressive opposition to the AKP's authoritarian neoliberal regime, remains to be seen. But one thing is clear, this is only the beginning.

After Syntagma: where are the occupiers now?

In 2011, at a time of financial crisis and in opposition to impending austerity measures, Greeks of all ages came together to occupy Athens' central square and inspire a resurgent form of political protest across the world. Two years on, where are the occupiers now?


A short film exploring emerging social tensions within Athens' public spaces (8 mins).

Beyond the ghost town

The collapse of Spain's property-led economy stands to highlight the intense yet fraught relationship between capital and the built environment in times of economic crisis.

The return of the state to the Parisian banlieue

Eight years since the 2005 Parisian riots and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announces a ‘return of the state’ to the banlieues. The recent resistance to this ‘return’ has marked an end to its short-lived political consensus and has forced a revaluation of what it truly means to be a citizen of France’s so-called ‘abandoned’ suburbs.

The battle for space in Barcelona: the 'rose of fire'

Beyond indignation and in the wake of a housing market crash, a series of daily battles are taking place on the streets of Barcelona over the use and purpose of urban space.

Development and dissent in China's 'urban age'

As China enters an 'urban age' for the first time in its entire history, a new set of urban conflicts over identity, development and inclusion are emerging across the country.

The politics of neglect in post-Mubarak Cairo

The politics of neglect which has long governed Cairo's expansive informal spaces looks set to remain well into the post-Mubarak era.

Greetings from Athenian democracy

The rise of Golden Dawn as a political force on the streets of Athens has provided the Greek state the opportunity to adopt a xenophobic agenda and forcefully eliminate threats to government austerity. The detention and torture of migrant groups and political opponents in the city, seriously call into question the future credibility of Greek democracy.

On strategies of spatial resistance in Palestine

The recent international coverage of the Bab Al-Shams camp depicted the demonstrators as mirroring Israeli settler tactics by creating ‘facts on the ground’. Whilst the comparison is not unfounded, it fails to contextualize the broader politics of space operating in Palestinian struggles against Israeli occupation.

Foucault’s boomerang: the new military urbanism

As our planet urbanizes more rapidly than ever before, an insidious set of boomerang effects, linking security doctrine in cities in the global North with those in the South, are permeating state tactics of control of everyday urban life.

Notes from Athens: Social meltdown

Film: Dr Dimitris Dalakoglou details the social meltdown taking place in Greece from May 2010 to the current date. The film is the culmination of Ross Domoney's past two years covering street protests in Athens.

Notes from Athens: Political build-up

Photo-essay: Freelance filmmaker Ross Domoney, recounts his experiences over the past two years covering protest and social unrest in Athens. All images and video material rights reserved Ross Domoney. Click here for Athens: Social Meltdown

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