Searching for the Just City: Debates in Urban Theory and Practice

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Peter Marcuse, James Connolly, Johannes Novy, Ingrid Olivo, Cuz Potter, Justin Steil
Taylor & Francis, May 29, 2009 - Architecture - 268 pages
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Cities are many things. Among their least appealing aspects, cities are frequently characterized by concentrations of insecurity and exploitation. Cities have also long represented promises of opportunity and liberation. Public decision-making in contemporary cities is full of conflict, and principles of justice are rarely the explicit basis for the resolution of disputes. If today’s cities are full of injustices and unrealized promises, how would a Just City function? Is a Just City merely a utopia, or does it have practical relevance? This book engages with the growing debate around these questions.

The notion of the Just City emerges from philosophical discussions about what justice is combined with the intellectual history of utopias and ideal cities. The contributors to this volume, including Susan Fainstein, David Harvey and Margit Mayer articulate a conception of the Just City and then examine it from differing angles, ranging from Marxist thought to communicative theory. The arguments both develop the concept of a Just City and question it, as well as suggesting alternatives for future expansion. Explorations of the concept in practice include case studies primarily from U.S. cities, but also from Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

The authors find that a forthright call for justice in all aspects of city life, putting the question of what a Just City should be on the agenda of urban reform, can be a practical approach to solving questions of urban policy. This synthesis is provocative in a globalised world and the contributing authors bridge the gap between theoretical conceptualizations of urban justice and the reality of planning and building cities. The notion of the Just City is an empowering framework for contemporary urban actors to improve the quality of urban life and Searching for the Just City is a seminal read for practitioners, professionals, students, researchers and anyone interested in what urban futures should aim to achieve.

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About the author (2009)

Peter Marcuse, a lawyer and urban planner, is Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at Columbia University in New York City. He is currently involved in, and has written on, the impact of September 11 on New York City, of Katrina on New Orleans, and on globalization, focusing on its impact on social justice.

James Connolly is a doctoral student in Urban Planning at Columbia University. His research focuses on the role of community organizations within complex organizational fields of urban policy-making.

Johannes Novy is currently finishing his PhD in Urban Planning at Columbia University's Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Novy's research interests include planning history and theory, urban tourism, as well as urban development in North America and Europe.

Ingrid Olivo is a PhD student in Urban Planning at Columbia University. Her research focuses on the role of cultural heritage in post-disaster development planning.

Cuz Potter is a doctoral student in the Urban Planning Department at Columbia University.

Justin Steil is a joint PhD/JD student in Urban Planning and in Law at Columbia University. His research focuses on the exercise of power through control over space, especially through the relation between housing, land use and immigration.

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