‘A New Politics of the City’: Locating the Limits of Hospitality and Practicing the City-as-Refuge J

  • Julie E.E. Young Department of Geography, York University
Keywords: refuge, city, space, relations, nation-state, politics, hospitality, politicization

Abstract

Refuge is an ongoing, everyday process of contestation that takes and makes place in and through the city, its spaces and relations. The potential of a particular city as a space of refuge is not guaranteed; refuge must be constantly (re)claimed through spatial practices and tactics. The city holds promise as an emancipatory space not through invocations of hospitality but rather because it is struggled over by its various inhabitants; thinking about cities as spaces of ‘dissensus’ highlights how refuge is produced and denied in everyday and extraordinary ways. In looking to the potential of the city as a space of refuge, I take my cue from Derrida (2001) who argues the city should be able to serve as a refuge in ways the nation-state cannot and calls for the invention of ‘new cities of refuge.’ Drawing from empirical work to ground the theoretical framing, I argue that the ways in which school space is practiced by youth living with precarious legal status in Toronto, Canada, reveals how bureaucratic exercises and lived experiences of refuge are in tension and points to potential reframings of membership away from the nation-state.
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