Urban Citizenship: Editors’ Note and Contents

Vol 4, No 2 (2013): Urban Citizenship

Debate on Europe often focuses on EU-level legislation and institutions, overlooking the places where Europe is actually experienced by people: at the local level, particularly in urban spaces. While crises often direct our attention to large-scale policies and institutional architecture, they can obscure the processes of re-invention constantly taking place when citizens interact with each other. In our view, no matter what takes place inside the bubble of Brussels, Europe will always be defined by how people live together and organise their local communities.

By directing our attention to urban spaces, we can shift away from the abstract, problem-focused debates that dominate EU-level discourse toward more the tangible ways people shape their daily lives. In this issue of Open Citizenship, “Urban Citizenship: Reclaiming the European City”, we investigate how citizenship is being redefined at the local level: in cities. The authors in this issue argue that urban citizenship presents a new model for participation and inclusion of minority and disadvantaged groups that can revitalise democratic processes throughout Europe. Throughout individual experiences in cities from Madrid to Istanbul to our editorial home in Berlin, our authors show numerous ways that citizens are actively working to reshape their cities to meet their needs: through new forms of engagement with the city and fellow inhabitants, local projects to revitalise abandoned spaces and modes of participation that include migrants, the LGBTQ community and the disabled.

This story is not always positive: it also includes citizens called upon to protest unjust actions from forced evictions to the destruction of public space, new ways city administrators are called upon to enforce a strict border regime and the current lack of many residents’ ability to fully participate in local politics. The articles here also examine the city as a physical space for meeting, action and identity and explore the right to the city. They discuss both theoretical possibilities for urban citizenship as well as current actions citizens are taking today. Unlike European citizenship, which can often get lost in theoretical constructs, the understandings of urban citizenship presented here can be linked to people’s everyday experiences.

In this sense, this issue presents an alternate vision for Europe, one that is cosmopolitan and local, inclusive and diverse but above all that calls upon all of us to become actively engaged in shaping our surroundings. The vision of urban citizenship presented here is one of empowered individuals and groups who work together to improve their daily lives and give back to the community.

We hope this issue inspires you to become more alert to and engaged in your local community. And as always, we invite you to react to what you read in these pages, to join the conversation and to take action in your own way.

Your CFE team

Table of Contents


  • Urban citizenship, border practices and immigrants’ rights in Europe: ambivalences of a cosmopolitan project, Henrik Lebuhn
  • Delinking the right to vote from national citizenship: thoughts on Germany, Miriam Aced, Tamer Düzyol
  • Urban citizenship through democratic variety – reflections on the local political participation of migrants in European cities, Simon Guentner, Richard Stanton
  • Cultivating citizenship: the impact of urban agriculture, Hrishabh Sandilya, Rachel Danna


  • The LGBTQ struggle for hospitality in eastern European cities, Tomasz Kitlinski, Pawel Leszkowicz
  • The city is ours: the past and present of urban movements in Madrid, Óscar J. Martín García
  • Doors and locks in Madrid — entering new citizenship spaces, Giulia Molinengo
  • Urban utopia: a feminist perspective on the Gezi resistance, Beyza Bilal, Judith J. Nahrwold
  • Urban citizenship and London: the great wen, Daniel Knowles


  • The Subversive Festival, Srećko Horvat, Igor Štiks
  • Urban social movements in Turkey, Dikmen Bezmez
  • Citizenship at the local and national levels, Matthew Taylor

Movement Watch

  • Basurama: an architectural collective, Basurama
  • Zwangsräumung verhindern – platform impeding evictions, Berlin, Bündnis Zwangsräumung verhindern
  • Stiftungsgemeinschaft anstiftung & ertomis: supporting sustainable lifestyles, Christa Müller
  • Malmö Frivilligcentra: towards active citizenship, Alexandra Fritzson, Quinn Norelius Ertel
  • The promise of urban citizenship: Lessons for Europe, Cities For Europe


  • Rebel cities: from the right to the city to the urban revolution, Gurmeet Singh
  • Triumph of the city, Simon Nichelson