The Global City: Challenges, Trust and the Role of Law

Trust is vital to society and trusting relations are vital to social cohesion and healthy and thriving communities, both at a global and at a local level. While trust is a notion that relates in many ways to the function of law in a society, it is not a common word in legal research. It is, however, used frequently to describe contemporary societal challenges.

One locus of social challenges where trust - or the looming lack of it - plays a pivotal role is the ‘global city’. Throughout the ages, world cities or ‘global cities’ as they are currently called in literature, are in the forefront of trust-related challenges. In global cities with their great diversity of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds, religions, and lifestyles, ‘how to live together?’ and ‘how to create an urban culture of respect and trust?’ are perennial questions. The questions have a legal dimension as well: ‘what role can law play in the cultivation of such a culture?’

The four-year research project ‘The Global City: Challenges, Trust and the Role of Law’ examines these developments. The project started in September 2016 and is funded by the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds.

The project consists of four individual PhD studies. Two PhD Candidates are exploring the seventeenth-century intellectual history of Amsterdam - arguably, one of the global cities of the 17th century - with a particular emphasis on the influence of the socio-political and legal ideas coming out of the dialogues between the Portuguese Jewish community and local Dutch authorities on the legal thinking on urban diversity and citizenship (research conducted by Julia van der Krieke), as well as the legal views on trade relations with non-European peoples and the slave trade in particular (research conducted by Yehonatan Elazar-DeMota).

Two PhD Candidates focus on the role of international law (in particular human rights law) in the engagement of global cities with the urgent (global) social challenges of the 21st century impacting urban life. One doctoral project examines the current manifestation of the global city at the transnational stage through the interaction of urban actors with the international human right to housing (research conducted by Miha Marcenko), while the second project examines how the reproduction of human rights norms, within the context of urban migration, contributes to trust and/or control within the global city (research conducted by Lisa Roodenburg).

While each of the four PhD projects raises its own range of questions, the four PhD projects together will address a number of related themes: diversity, migration and trade (including the slave trade); political participation and citizenship; the role of law, fundamental rights and duties as a possible source of trust in the global city of the past and present; and, the role and position of the global city in the international (legal) order of the past and present.

A dedicated project website will be launched shortly.

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