In January 1991, the Chief of Land-use and Planning Operations at the French Ministry of Equipment and Housing invited various researchers and academics to discuss a new law in preparation.2 The law in question was the Urban Development Act (Loi d’orientation pour la ville, hereafter LOV), also known as the “anti-ghetto law,” with the major concern to fight against social exclusion and spatial segregation.The ensuing seminar spawned lively debates that generated difficult questions, particularly concerning the opening article of the law, which read:

The invocation of “the right to the city” seemed, as one of the participants suggested, merely “a homage to the work of Henri Lefebvre.”4 Indeed, the inclusion of the catchphrase, without deliberate elaboration and careful consideration of larger structural issues, appeared unable to deliver on its promises. Besides, it was unclear what this “right” would mean for inhabitants of cities-especially for the marginalized and those without legal citizenship or “proper” papers.