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Transformation, survival and emancipation in a world city: regeneration or busin

citylife | 25.06.2007 11:52 | Free Spaces | Globalisation | Social Struggles | London

This week in London, Inura is having it's 2007 conference, 25 June to 1 July 2007

INURA is a network of people involved in action and research in localities and cities.
It is a non-governmental and non-profit organization with a self-organizing, non-hierarchical, decentralized structure. The Network consists of activists and researchers from community and environmental groups, universities, and local administrations, who wish to share experineces and to participate in common research. Examples of the issues that Network members are involved in include: major urban renewal projects, the urban periphery, community-led environmental schemes, urban traffic and transport, inner city labour markets, do-it-yourself culture, and social housing provision. In each case, the research is closely tied to, and is a product of, local action and initiative.

London was one of the cradles of capitalism and - as the base of British government and a host of consultants and financial institutions - has played a leading role in the intensified renewal of the capitalist project in Europe and the world since the 1980s. Just now it is reflecting on the legacy of slavery and on the campaigns here to end the Atlantic slave trade 200 years ago - a trade which contributed massively to wealth accumulation in Britain and thus to some extent underpins whatever prosperity we all have now. Dealing with that legacy may help in dealing with racism today. The idea of emancipation from oppression is thus in people's thoughts.

The 17th Inura meeting will focus less on the big global processes and more on the experience of citizens in a city-region experiencing rapid economic growth distributed very unequally. The economy is partly driven by the continuing inflation of asset values, including the values of housing and urban space. Citizens are all subject to the resulting pressures and many of our visits and discussions in London will be to groups and localities fighting for survival and for decent conditions in the face of intensifying gentrification and continuing low salaries for working class people or welfare benefits which trap people in poverty or near-poverty. A common theme is the transfer of social housing to (or towards) private ownership, either individual or corporate. Tenants are manipulated into these schemes because government money for housing improvement is conditional on their consent.

A secondary or background theme - likely to be prominent at the retreat in Brighton - will be the contradictory story of London government which combines radical and emancipatory measures for transport, global warming and some other topics with an uncritical endorsement of real-estate investment disguised as 'regeneration' and 'sustainability'.

The conference itself is a costly affair so I'm not posting this as an advert so that you might go. There seem to be quite a few people over for the conference from DIY culture/squatting circles so you might be interested in meeting up and finding out both what's going on at the conference and what their groups are working on at home.

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