The Affective Right to the City

This project investigates the affective and performative aspects of the right to the city with a focus on the materialisation of this right, its corporeal coming into being. It is grounded in ethnographic research conducted in Melbourne’s city centre among people experiencing homelessness. In elaborating the idea of an affective right to the city, Cameron Duff has used Judith Butler’s (2015) discussion of a theory of assembly to analyse my ethnographic data. This analysis suggests that the materialisation of the right to the city is embodied in the social, material and affective occupation of urban space. This work reveals how the body’s inhabitation of place, and the affordances of the material environment, mediates the performative expression of the right to the city. It also calls for a shift from a juridical conception of the right to the city to an affective one, more accommodating of the social and material contexts in which this right is enacted. The next stage of this project will consider the implications of this affective conception of rights for the elaboration of what Andy Merrifield (2011) has called the ‘politics of the encounter’ with homelessness in urban space.

related publications

Judith Butler (2015). Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard University Press.

Cameron Duff (2016). Atmospheres of Recovery: Assemblages of Health. Environment and Planning A. 48(1) 58–74

Cameron Duff (2015). Governing Drug Use Otherwise: For an Ethics of Care. Sociology. 51(1): 81-96.

Andy Merrifield (2013) The Politics of the Encounter: Urban Theory and Protest under Planetary Urbanization. University of Georgia Press.


Cameron Duff