Northwestern Events Calendar


Constructing a Global Right to the City: Cultural Power and Diffusion of an Urban Development Model

When: Tuesday, February 6, 2018
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM  

Where: 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Morrissey  

Group: Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


EDGS Graduate Lecture Series

Wara Urwasi, Sociology

Diffusion studies tend to ignore the characteristics of the object that may better explain why and how certain things are more likely to diffuse at a global scale. I propose a cultural power framework for diffusion that accommodates the interaction among structural resources, the role of actors, and the autonomy of the diffused object. Using “the right to the city” as a case, I examine how an urban development model from Latin America was able to diffuse both vertically to global institutional level (the United Nations) and horizontally to Asia (India and Indonesia). This study involves analysis of archival data, live-streamed conferences, and secondary sources. The findings suggest the role of transnational and local urban activists in shaping the cultural power of the right to the city model by generating its modularity, unitary capacity, and resonance. The resources that are significant in the vertical and horizontal diffusion processes include 1) existing ideology of universal human rights and democracy, 2) infrastructural mediums through international forums. Overall, the research suggests the possibility of taking a position of synthesis to disentangle the complexity of the diffusion process and to observe how a global social imaginary gets constructed, transmitted, and institutionalized.


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