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Labour NGOs and the struggle for migrant workers’ rights

In twenty-first-century Chinese cities there are hundreds of millions of rural migrants who are living temporary lives, suspended between urban and rural China. They are the unsung heroes of the country’s ‘economic miracle’, yet are regarded as second-class citizens in both a cultural, material and legal sense. China’s citizenship challenge tells the story of how civic organisations set up by some of these rural migrants challenge this citizenship marginalisation. The book argues that in order to effectively address the problems faced by migrant workers, these NGOs must undertake ‘citizenship challenge’: the transformation of migrant workers’ social and political participation in public life, the broadening of their access to labour and other rights, and the reinvention of their relationship to the city. By framing the NGOs’ activism in terms of citizenship rather than class struggle, this book offers a valuable contribution to the field of labour movement studies in China. The monograph also proves exceptionally timely in the context of the state’s repression of these organisations in recent years, which, as the book explores, was largely driven by their citizenship-altering activism.

Małgorzata Jakimów

In November 2017, a fire claimed nineteen lives in an overcrowded building in Daxing, one of the most densely migrant-inhabited districts of Beijing. Shortly afterwards, an estimated 100,000 migrant workers labelled as ‘low-end population’ were thrown out into the bitter Beijing winter as urban villages in Daxing and other parts of the city were razed in the forty-day crackdown on ‘illegal housing’ (Phillips, 2017 ). The city authorities justified the destruction of urban villages, as in previous cases of similar removal, on the grounds of

in China’s citizenship challenge
A genealogical enquiry
Małgorzata Jakimów

particular walled-off, urban, village-like community (Dutton, 1992 : 231–232). However, even though the ‘rural’ was the new ideal to be re-enacted in the ‘revolutionary’ cities, the Maoist understanding of the ‘rural’ had little to do with Imperial China's conception of the ‘rural’ as the microcosm of the empire. Instead of family- or clan-centred identities, the Communists sought to remake both the city and the countryside into a new society (see Mao, 1940 ), where the old ‘feudal’ organisation of rural life was to be replaced by classless social relations, a process

in China’s citizenship challenge
Philip Lawton

suburban growth. Broadly speaking, the period of the economic boom was marked by two contrasting visions of urban society in Ireland. The official vision was often presented as the desire for an urban village atmosphere based around walkable and sustainable communities, which in reality was largely driven by an entrepreneurial planning agenda dominated by real estate interests (MacLaran and Williams, 2003). The other vision was that of the continued suburban expansion of cities such as Cork and Dublin (Corcoran, Gray and Peillon, 2010; Fagan, Kelly and Lysaght, 2006

in Spacing Ireland
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Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

As the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire of 14 June 2017 has slowly revealed a shadowy background of outsourcing and deregulation, and a council turning a blind eye to health and safety concerns, many questions need answers. Stuart Hodkinson has those answers. Safe as Houses weaves together Stuart’s research over the last decade with residents’ groups in council regeneration projects across London to provide the first comprehensive account of how Grenfell happened and how it could easily have happened in multiple locations across the country. It draws on examples of unsafe housing either refurbished or built by private companies under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to show both the terrible human consequences of outsourcing and deregulation and how the PFI has enabled developers, banks and investors to profiteer from highly lucrative, taxpayer-funded contracts. The book also provides shocking testimonies of how councils and other public bodies have continuously sided with their private partners, doing everything in their power to ignore, deflect and even silence those who speak out. The book concludes that the only way to end the era of unsafe regeneration and housing provision is to end the disastrous regime of self-regulation. This means strengthening safety laws, creating new enforcement agencies independent of government and industry, and replacing PFI and similar models of outsourcing with a new model of public housing that treats the provision of shelter as ‘a social service’ democratically accountable to its residents.

Małgorzata Jakimów

and community-lacking experience of migrant labour. The hukou identity card, represented as ‘a thin piece of paper’ in this author's other poem, complicates this situation of displacement. This displacement and the feeling of alienation from both rural and urban are also echoed in the narratives expressed through NBW's artistic activities and the forms of self-expression that the organisation promotes among migrant workers. The urban village where the NGO is based is located on the outskirts of Beijing city's prosperous Chaoyang district, near

in China’s citizenship challenge
Fanny Lopez

and that are so very unspectacular. A new energy policy (that is, a new economic and social policy) should therefore be able to advocate and support a ‘modernized peasant civilization’ trend. Initially, it would doubtlessly be important to imagine a new regional development mode to replace ours, for example an ‘agro-urban’ fabric in which, in our cities and countryside, a very dense way of inhabiting (about 5,000 inhabitants per km 2 as a national average, or even more), would be replaced, with ‘urban villages’ that are juxtaposed, near each other; it would be a

in Dreams of disconnection
Georgina Blakeley and Brendan Evans

intention to provide development companies with housing construction contracts was apparent in Bernstein’s announcement that ‘major house building groups had expressed enthusiasm for creating new and sustainable homes in the area’ (NEM Shadow Board Minutes, 09/12/1999). Finally, it was clear that NEM was not to function de novo, but was to sweep up existing projects under 30 The regeneration of east Manchester its control by assuming responsibility for the Health, Sports and Education Action Zones (HAZs, SAZs and EAZs), the Ancoats Urban Village Company, SureStart

in The regeneration of east Manchester
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Labour non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the citizenship challenge
Małgorzata Jakimów

marginalisation, police surveillance and hardship in the daily life of the city. Increasingly pushed away from the city centre to the outskirts, migrants have constantly found themselves on the move, from one demolished urban village to another already scheduled for demolition. Through the festival and the museum, NBW created an independent, grassroots platform which would enable migrants to relate these stories, as expressed in the opening address of the festival: We often hear that it is the government

in China’s citizenship challenge
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Producing art, producing art history
Alpesh Kantilal Patel

Manchester’s Gay Village’, Leisure Studies 21, no. 2 (2002): 105–23; Quilley, ‘Entrepreneurial Turns: Municipal Socialism and After’, in City of Revolution: Restructuring Manchester, ed. Jamie Peck and Kevin Ward (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 91; Steve Quilley, ‘Constructing Manchester’s “New Urban Village”: Gay Space in the Entrepreneurial City’, in Queers in Space: Communities, Public Places, Sites of Resistance, ed. Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette and Yolanda Retter (Seattle: Bay Press, 1997), 275–92; Dereka Rushbrook, ‘Cities, Queer

in Productive failure