UCSC Event Explores Ties Between Labor and the ‘Right to the City’
Whose City? Labor and the Right to the City Movements, an all day conference on Saturday, Feb. 26 on the UC Santa Cruz campus, opened with a large crowd filling the 300-seat Humanities Lecture Hall to capacity.
The event was a joint effort between the university’s Center for Labor Studies and Urban Studies Research Cluster, and was aimed at discussion of the history of and challenges facing emerging coalitions between workers, environmentalists, and urban social movements.
The event brought together theorists and activists from the Central Coast and across the country, including keynote speaker and Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, David Harvey. Harvey is the author whose defining 2008 article “The Right to the City”, published in New Left Review, inspired this event, and many others like it internationally.
In his article, Harvey writes, “It is a right to change ourselves by changing the city more after our heart’s desire … the freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”
Cindy Hernandez, a fourth year anthropology major at UCSC, heard about the event through one of her classes and came to hear Harvey’s presentation.
“I was excited to hear David Harvey would be speaking on our campus, he’s one of the biggest names in talking about these issues … It was interesting to [hear] how these theories and discussions were applied,” says Hernandez. “Its about the redefining of what it means to be a citizen and to have the city as an aspect of human rights.”
The event also featured two panel discussions and a screening of the short documentary film “Fine Print: Un Robo Legal” by the UCSC student organization Border Stompers.
Miriam Greenberg, director of the UCSC Urban Studies Research Cluster and associate professor of sociology, says that the discussion focused on areas of intersection and coalition between groups working on housing, environmental, immigrant and workers issues and ranged from issues specific to communities like Santa Cruz to broader national and global struggles.
“It’s not just about getting resources, it’s about having a voice, a democratic process and not one simply driven by powerful interests,” says Greenberg.
The event, which was free and open to the public, was the third and largest event sponsored by the Urban Studies Research Cluster so far this academic year.