Lela Rekhviashvili Pre-Event Talk

Lela Rekviashvili holds a pre event talk on the theme “Right to the City: Who’s right? Which right? To which City?”

One of the latest initiatives of the Tbilisi City Hall to free urban space from private garages in favour of creating recreational areas in the city, was met with relative acclaim. However, some commentators did raise concerns around social costs of garage removal in the city, particularly for those citizens who currently use garages for commercial purposes. It seems the City Hall, will not handle the topic with similar violence as when removing street vendors from public spaces. Still, the case seems to be posing an interesting dilemma to discuss urban politics in Tbilisi. Which rights are more important, the right to free public space from informal occupation or the right to draw on public space for survival purposes? What kind of social conflict lies between the aspirations of different groups? To discuss these question the lecture offers discussion on Peter Marcuse’s works on right to the city. Marcuse tries to offer class analysis for understanding urban spatial production processes, hence allows for identification and naming of groups behind urban conflicts. The discussion will first offer Marcuse’s class definitions and then attempt to use those for understanding the politics of marginalising informal practices in Tbilisi.

Lela Rekhviashvili is a post-doctoral researcher at Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig. Her research interests include political economy of transition, informal economic practices, social movements, everyday resistance, and urban mobility. Her academic publications discuss post-soviet shared taxies in a comparative perspective with ride-sharing and informal transport, impact of institutional change, particularly of marketisation policies on informal economic practices, and the role of everyday resistance in production of public space.