Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Editorial | Open Access

Enacting Citizenship and the Right to the City: Towards Inclusion through Deepening Democracy?

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Abstract:  In this introductory article, the main theoretical concerns guiding this thematic issue are briefly discussed, alongside an overview of relevant literature on rights and urban citizenship. We draw on the work of Engin on ‘enacted citizenship,’ and combine Hannah Arendt’s ‘right to have rights’ with Henri Lefebvre’s ‘right to the city,’ for inspiration. The hope is that these concepts or theoretical tools help our contributors explore the ‘grey areas’ of partial inclusion and exclusion, and to connect the informal with the formal, migrants with professionals, locals with those from elsewhere. Since the contributions in this issue come from practitioners as well as scholars, we are interested in very different forms of urban citizenship being enacted in a range of settings, in such a way as to overcome, or at least side-step, social, economic and political exclusion within specific urban settings. In this introduction we reflect on urban migrants organising and mobilising to enact their own citizenship rights within specific urban spaces, and present each of the eight published articles, briefly illustrating the range of approaches and urban citizenship issues covered in this thematic issue. The examples of urban enacted citizenship practices include efforts to construct economic livelihoods, gain access to health care, promote political participation, reweave the social fabric of poor neighbourhoods, and provide sanctuary. All of which, our contributors suggest, requires the engagement of the local urban authorities to allow room for the informal, and to accept the need for improved dialogue and improved access to public services.

Keywords:  cities; European cities; enacted citizenship; health; local government; right to the city; sanctuary



© Helen Hintjens, Rachel Kurian. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.