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Reading: ‘From shack to the Constitutional Court’The litigious disruption of governing global cities


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‘From shack to the Constitutional Court’
The litigious disruption of governing global cities


Anna Selmeczi


Taking its cue from the worldwide proliferation of struggles for access to the city, this paper aims to assess the impact of globalized neoliberalism on the juridico-legal techniques of contemporary urban governmentalities and to inquire into the ways in which such techniques can be resisted. It suggests that at least in urban contexts, the police order that, according to Foucault, was largely superseded by the modern liberal technologies of governing through freedom, today seems to be rather active. Arguably, global cities' competition for capital promoted by the globalized neoliberal economic order and its imperative to actively intervene in producing the market, pairs up conveniently with the detailed methods of regulating the early modern West. On the other hand, the self-limitation of governmental reason originating in the political economic criticism of the police state equips governance with the means of voluntary impotence and, placing the management of the economy at the centre of governmental activity, it increasingly adapts law to social and economic processes. While, according to Rancière, these tendencies lead to the effacement of the gaps between legal inscriptions and social realities, and thus tend to impede the occurrence of the political, in interpreting the struggles of South African shack dwellers, the paper aims to illustrate how inscriptions of equality may nevertheless trigger the political disruption of urban biopolitics.
How to Cite: Selmeczi, A., (2011). ‘From shack to the Constitutional Court’
The litigious disruption of governing global cities. Utrecht Law Review. 7(2), pp.60–76. DOI:
Published on 14 Apr 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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