Activist*scholar collaborations in times of crisis, and beyond
reflections on ‘Urban Activism: Staking Claims in the 21st Century City’
Stefano Portelli and Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe
Keywords: Evictions, dispossession, displacement, urban activism, engagement, social contract
A conference organized in September 2019 at Harvard University brought together a group of activists and scholars from North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, to discuss the political and theoretical implications of the convergence between urban activism and urban scholarship. The interventions and debate are summarized here in relation to the shifting political context that followed the conference. We argue that the global demand to reframe the relationship between people and institutions should be addressed by reframing the production of knowledge, and we put forward three proposals: that academic departments develop permanent relationships with social movements that struggle against housing and resource dispossession, that research institutions demand that binding social impact assessments are undertaken for each development project, and that activists and scholars develop forms of collaboration on a broader scale to connect different models of grassroots governance into designing a new social contract.