This introductory symposium article develops a framework for an urban political reading and a theorization of urban uprisings. We argue that there is a need to foreground the notion of the urban political as central to the theoretical and practical demands of urban research today. First, we revisit critical urban theory in light of recent urban insurrections and point out a lack of sustained theoretical engagement with the political. Second, based on this critique, we argue for what we call a ‘re-centring of the urban political’ to rethink urban theory in ways that consider the city as a site of political encounter, interruption and experimentation, even when, or perhaps especially when, these ways fall outside institutional forms or lack the organizational form or legitimacy of social movements. Thus, we attempt to place politics at the heart of radical urban political theory and practice today in order to make sense of urban subjects, events and claims that elude established government practices and institutionalized structures.