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Local Self-GovernmentThe culmination of a life’s work by Canada’s leading political theorist in the field and UVic Professor Emeritus, Doug Magnusson, Local Self-Government and the Right to the City ranges across topics such as local government, social movements, constitutional law, urban political economy, and democratic theory.

About the Book

Despite decades of talk about globalization, democracy still depends on local self-government. In Local Self-Government and the Right to the City, Warren Magnusson argues that it is the principle behind claims to personal autonomy, community control, and national self-determination that holds the promise of more peaceful politics. Unfortunately, state-centered thinking has obscured understanding of what local self-government can mean and hindered efforts to make good on what activists have called the “right to the city.”

In this collection of essays, Magnusson reflects on his own efforts to make sense of what local self-government can actually mean, using the old ideal of the town meeting as a touchstone. Why cannot communities govern themselves? Why fear direct democracy? As he suggests, putting more trust in the proliferating practices of government and self-government will actually make cities work better, and enable us to see how to localize democracy appropriately. He shows that doing so will require citizens and governments to come to terms with the multiplicity, indeterminacy, and uncertainty implicit in politics and steer clear of sovereign solutions.

About the Author

Warren Magnusson is a political theorist and UVic Professor Emeritus (Political Science) with a particular interest in the urban and the local as sites of politics and government.

MagnussonHis most recent book, Local Self-Government and the Right to the City, completes a trilogy that began with The Search for Political Space (1996) and Politics of Urbanism: Seeing Like a City (2011). Magnusson has always had a particular interest in politics in Canada, as is reflected in the influential volume he edited with Andrew Sancton on City Politics in Canada (1983), two co-edited volumes on BC politics, The New Reality (1983) and After Bennett (1986), various articles and book chapters he published in the subsequent decades, and another edited volume, with Karena Shaw, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound (2002).

He is a founding member of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (CSPT) at UVic, as well as of the Urban Studies Committee, which organizes the CityTalks in Victoria. Having taught many different courses on urban politics and political theory over the years, he offered his last course as a regular faculty member – a seminar on self-government  – in January 2016. He continues to advise graduate students interested in contemporary political theory and/or urban politics.

Praise for the Book

“Local Self-Government and the Right to the City reveals the intellectual development of one of the most creative and incisive, yet perhaps underappreciated, political theorists Canada has ever produced.” Zack Taylor, University of Toronto

“…it does a remarkable job in raising and framing crucial questions, in critiquing prevailing disciplinary assumptions, and in mapping the landscape for a new urban-focused, community-based worldview.” W.F. Garrett-Petts, BC Studies, 2016.