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Two-Part “Right to Housing” Series Session Two: The Fight for Housing

A home is fundamental to the human condition. And yet many people—over time and across the world today—struggle to find, or keep this most basic necessity. What does it mean to assert a right to safe, sustainable, affordable housing? And what are the political, ethical, and existential issues raised by its lack or unattainability?

This two-part event (Sept. 24 and Oct. 1) will be moderated by Brian Goldstone, a journalist and anthropologist currently writing a book on gentrification, housing insecurity, and the rise of the working homeless, and Anne Allison, Duke anthropologist who has worked on precarity, lonely death, and homeless dead in Japan.


Among the most striking political developments in recent years is the emergence of a powerful grassroots tenant rights movement. Denouncing the profiteering, predatory speculation, and engineered segregation that has deprived an unprecedented number of people—the majority of the working-class black and brown Americans—of a roof over their heads, tenants and their allies are organizing for structural transformation: a dismantling of the “real estate state” and the guarantee of a safe, permanently affordable home for everyone living in the United States. The movement has introduced a radical language for talking about housing, one premised on human shelter not as an investment to be exploited for profit but as a basic right, no less vital than education or access to food and medicine. This session will explore the present and future directions of the insistence on a right to housing—a demand that’s only grown more urgent with the insecurity wrought by COVID-19. The session will feature: Samuel Stein (Community Service Society of New York), Tara Raghuveer (KC Tenants/People’s Action), Tracy Rosenthal (LA Tenants Union), and Hannah Black (artist and writer).

Attendees are invited to one, or both sessions, and are urged to read the writing of the participants ahead of time. You can also visit the Facebook events page here. You could visit their website for recommended readings to accompany this series.


Julia Christensen, “’Our Home, Our Way of Life’: Spiritual Homelessness, Dimensions of Indigenous Homelessness in the Northwest Territories, Canada,” Social & Cultural Geography, 2013.
Steph Grohmann, “Introduction,” The Ethics of Space: Homelessness and Squatting in Urban England.

Fiona Ross, “Raw Life & Respectability: Poverty & Everyday Life in a Postapartheid Community,” Current Anthropology vol. 56, supp. 11, August 2015.

Anne Allison, “Not Waiting to Die Badly: Facing the Precarity of Dying Alone in Japan,” in Ethnographies of Waiting: Doubt, Hope and Uncertainty, eds. Manpreet Janeja & Andreas Bandak, 2018.

Brian Goldstone, “The New American Homeless”

Samuel Stein, “Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State”

Hannah Black, “Tenant Unions for the Future”

Tracy Rosenthal, “101 Notes on the LA Tenants Union”

Tara Raghuveer, “From Commodification to Public Good: Changing Our Housing Narratives”

This series is sponsored by the Franklin Humanities Institute and co-sponsored by Cultural Anthropology, the Duke Human Rights Center@FHI, and the Pauli Murray Project.


October 1, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm