STANFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS
  
Cover of The Right to Dignity by Miguel Pérez
The Right to Dignity
Housing Struggles, City Making, and Citizenship in Urban Chile
Miguel Pérez

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April 2022
256 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503614963
Paperback ISBN: 9781503631526

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In the poorest neighborhoods of Santiago, Chile, low-income residents known as pobladores have long lived at the margins—and have long advocated for the right to housing as part of la vida digna (a life with dignity). From 2011 to 2015, anthropologist Miguel Pérez conducted fieldwork among the pobladores of Santiago, where the urban dwellers and activists he met were part of an emerging social movement that demanded dignified living conditions, the right to remain in their neighborhoods of origin, and, more broadly, recognition as citizens entitled to basic rights. This ethnographic account raises questions about state policies that conceptualize housing as a commodity rather than a right, and how poor urban dwellers seek recognition and articulate political agency against the backdrop of neoliberal policies.

By scrutinizing how Chilean pobladores constitute themselves as political subjects, this book reveals the mechanisms through which housing activists develop new imaginaries of citizenship in a country where the market has been the dominant force organizing social life for almost forty years. Pérez considers the limits and potentialities of urban movements, framed by poor people's involvement in subsidy-based programs, as well as the capacity of low-income residents to struggle against the commodification of rights by claiming the right to dignity: a demand based on a moral category that would ultimately become the driving force behind Chile's 2019 social uprising.

About the author

Miguel Pérez is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Alberto Hurtado University (Chile) and Associate Researcher at the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (Chile).