Allborgarrätten: The Right to the City as a Swedish Tradition

Allborgarrätten’ is a newly coined concept that promises to be the urban equivalent of the rural, traditional Swedish ‘allemansrätten’ – everyman’s right to roam freely in nature. The rural right is one most Swedes know by heart, even though they now live in cities. Through the Nordic lens, Rydén explores themes like the right to the city, national identity and connects it to a larger global discourse. Along with this verbal exploration Jan Rydén has created a series of pictograms, a pictorial grammar of sorts, which follows its own poetic logic. The book is set to be launched in September 2016, in both English and Swedish.

‘Allborgarrätten’ är den nya urbana motsvarigheten till allemansrätten. Ordet är skapat av den svenske konstnären Jan Rydén. I essäboken Allborgarrätten: Rätten till staden som en svensk tradition undersöker han idén och knyter an till en internationell diskussion om rätten till staden. Parallellt med texten har Rydén skapat en serie piktogram som följer en egen poetisk logik. Boken publiceras på både svenska och engelska.

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Jan Rydén’s ultimate goal is to make the urban allborgarrätten a part of the Swedish Constitution, just as the rural right already is. Rydén embarked on the project of allborgarrätten with a starting point firmly entrenched in the Nordic context. However, along the way he has discovered that his work is part of a global discourse on the Right to the City, which has been particularly important in Latin America. The formulation of the Right to the City has its roots in, among others, the work of French philosopher Henri Lefebvre, who’s ”Le droit à la ville” was published early in 1968.

Allemansrätten is a type of commoners’ right to e.g. walk, hike and camp or pick flowers and berries even extending onto other peoples’ lands. The traditional allemansrätten is strongly connected to Swedish natural identity, it is a matter of national pride, and is taught to every child.

The neologism allborgarrätten, approximately ”every burgher’s right”, connects the right not to nationality but to all those who dwell in the city, including those who are there temporarily including fluid parts of the populations such as migrants, guest workers and commuters.Rights such as allemansrätten were once common in many European countries but have to a large extent dissapeared. They were preserved in Nordic countries, possibly because feudalism and serfdom were never established in those societies.





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