Spatial justice and Urban De(re)generation

“Just as none of us are beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism

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IUD Archive Image. Uneven Development research project. Public space next to a residential neighbourhood being cleared and gentrified with luxury high rise flats. Guangzhou, China: 2013.

Spatial justice‘ is a key concept for us in critically examining the ‘consequential geographies’ produced by contemporary urban ‘regeneration projects’. For IUD it is a vital tool as it draws our attention to the end consequences of planning and other cultural / economic processes that affect how environments are shaped, created or redistributed. We are particularly interested in the emerging social polarisation that hides beneath many ‘community branded’ projects that are simply fronts for neo-liberal forms of profit accumulation by dispossessing locals of their property or resources.

Ed Soja in his article The City & Spatial Justice notes:

“The specific term “spatial justice” has not been commonly used until very recently, and even today there are tendencies among geographers and planners to avoid the explicit use of the adjective “spatial” in describing the search for justice and democracy in contemporary societies. Either the spatiality of justice is ignored or it is absorbed (and often drained of its specificity) into such related concepts as territorial justice, environmental justice, the urbanization of injustice, the reduction of regional inequalities, or even more broadly in the generic search for a just city and a just society.

All of these variations on the central theme are important and relevant, but often tend to draw attention away from the specific qualities and meaning of an explicitly spatialized concept of justice and, more importantly, the many new opportunities it is providing not just for theory building and empirical analysis but for spatially informed social and political action”.

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IUD Archive Image. Uneven Development research project. Personal remnants of local residents in neighbourhood being cleared for the building of luxury high rise flats. Guangzhou, China: 2013.


Justice Spatiale - Spatial Justice 6

For further reading see the journal Justice spatiale/Spatial justice, created in 2009.


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