Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In the classic "right to the city" formulation of Lefebvre and his interpreters, the right to the city is the inhabiting of urban space for uses that are creative, relational, and critically, not marketized. For the Marxist Lefebvre, the distinction of market versus non-market was the axis on which the potential of urban space turned. But for some cities of the postcolony, one of the more significant distinctions affecting the potential for flourishing in the city is that of gender.
Papua New Guinea's rapidly growing urban centers are characterized by experimentation with new social and cultural arrangements. Among these areas of experimentation is how gender is being reimagined through its articulation with the obligations that can become intensified in urban life: work, education, church, sport, and the sporadic interventions of NGOs. Drawing on recent work on domestic violence in Papua New Guinea's second city, Lae, this paper explores the means by which women navigate the city as they seek redress for the violence itself, but also attempt to project more hopeful and productive connections across the city than those they have so far experienced. The justice they seek lies not in legal remedies for violence, but in the new relational forms that urban spaces make possible.