8. Socio-Spatial (In)justice

Thursday 27th August, 13:30-15:00 and 15:30-17:00.

The Right to the City (Henri Lefebvre) and the Just City (Susan Fainstein) are notions in critical urban studies and progressive planning theory, respectively, valorizing the complex relationships between urban space, political economy and social justice. With roots in the 1960s’ social movements, the debates around spatial justice and social fairness are very relevant today as societies both in the Global South and North are facing new challenges, embodied in political populism, neoliberal economic policies, international real-estate capitalism, social polarization, uneven development, resource crisis and new data-driven forms of social control. 

In this context, we ask how to fight these negative processes in and through the contemporary city and society? Does urban space, broadly defined, have any leverage for critical and progressive action today? How to experiment and demonstrate inclusive spaces and practices? What are the linkages (and missing connections) between urban activism, appropriation of spaces, and digital mobilization? How to tackle the populist disruptions on-site and on-line? Do legal actions or exemplary urban planning have a role? 

In the working group on Socio-Spatial (In)justice, thus, we will explore spatially embedded practices for social justice as an emerging phenomenon worth of attention. We welcome papers and presentations from several disciplines. We would like to learn from researchers and practitioners that focus on dynamics and intersections between social processes and physical urban space, on the one hand, and between regulation and self-organisation, on the other hand. The organisers share interests in Latin American studies, land policy, regionalization, financialization of housing, urban violence and gender, public urban space, temporary uses, as well as new urban actors and social movements. These themes are in no way an exhaustive list of possible topics of the working group. We accept presentations that are based on academic research and practical work and experimentation alike. We especially invite participants that engage in other perspectives than the dominant Euro-American one. The language of the working group is English.

Session chairpersons:

Chair

Professor Panu Lehtovuori, Tampere University, School of Architecture.

Vice chairs

PhD researcher Dalia Milián Bernal, Tampere University, School of Architecture.

Postdoc researcher Ozlem Celik, University of Helsinki, Development Studies and HELSUS.

University Researcher and Docent Florencia Quesada Avendaño, University of Helsinki, Development Studies, HELSUS and Urbaria.

Assistant professor Lina Olsson, Malmö University.

Presentations:

This working group of Socio-spatial (In)justice has been divided into two panels: Informalities and Urban Activisms. The presentations will be 15 minutes for sessions of four presentations and 20 minutes for sessions of three participants. At the end of the second session, we will have time to discuss prospects.

1st panel: Socio-Spatial (In)justice I: Informalities

Thursday 27th August, 13:30-15:00

Chair: Dalia Milián Bernal

1. Injustice of spatiality: precarious settlements in Guatemala City

Florencia Quesada, University researcher, University of Helsinki

2. The monopoly of Informality -or- Omnipresent Informality

Alejandro Arce Justiniano

3. From Resistance to the Institutionalisation of Right to Housing

Özlem Celik, Postdoc researcher, University of Helsinki

4. Lapinlahti hospital: Informal actors speaking for weak users of public space

Panu Lehtovuori, Professor, Tampere University

2nd panel: Socio-Spatial (In)justice II: Urban Activisms

Thursday 27th August, 15:30-17:00

Chair: Özlem Celik

5. Temporary re-appropriations of vacant and abandoned urban spaces in Latin America: Agendas, Aims, Motivations and Meanings

Dalia Milián Bernal, PhD researcher, Tampere University

6. Feminist Participatory Design Interventions: contesting the social reproduction of urban exclusion in marginalized urban environments 

Brenda Vértiz Márquez, PhD researcher, Aalto University

7. Heating up the sauna: Dynamics of co-creation without a distinct leader

Elina Alatalo, PhD researcher, Tampere University

Discussion – Future collaborations and other prospects

All presenters – moderated by Panu Lehtovuori

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1. Injustice of spatiality: precarious settlements in Guatemala City

Florencia Quesada, University researcher, University of Helsinki.

Drawing on theoretical ideas of Mustafa Dikeç, the main goal of this paper is to analyse the consolidation of precarious settlements in the ravines surrounding Guatemala City focusing on the structural dynamics that produce and reproduce injustice through space. Putting the accent on the processes that produce spatial injustices, the paper aims to understand structural dynamics that promotes the consolidation of precarious settlements in Guatemala City. Specifically, the paper focuses on two risk communities, Arzú and 5 de noviembre, located in the ravines in zone 18 in Guatemala City. The zone 18 is one of the poorest, most populated and most unjust spaces in the capital. The paper analyses the injustice of spatiality by studying the specific conditions of urban life and the struggles in these communities, to improve their living conditions of disadvantage and precariousness and their relationships with the State and Municipality.

2. The monopoly of Informality -or- Omnipresent Informality 

Alejandro Arce Justiniano, Aalto University.

In a country that has been ranked by the IMF as holder of the biggest “shadow economy” in the World accounting for 62,3 percent of its GDP (IMF, 2018) Bolivia constitutes itself as a meaningful space for research in the broader Global South studies. Despite this “obvious” value and in comparison with Sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asian countries little literature has been produced in recent years studying the implicit dynamics of the “shadow economy” or informal economy as extensively portrayed and understood by the World Bank (World Bank, 2019). In this paper I try to fill part of that void by focus my attention in the physical built environment produced as collateral result of the informal economy dynamics.  The first part of the paper following Mathews (2012), Vega (2012) and Ribeiro (2012) sets a global framework for the analysis using the concepts of ​low-end globalization ​or ​globalization from below to try to place the Bolivian case studies within a network of low-end globalized nodes. The second part, taking Kamalipour (2016, 2019), Dovey (2012, 2019) and Roy (2005) as guiding literature leading urban studies today towards a shift in the conception and approach to the study of urban informality and in an interplay with classic literature like David Harvey’s urbanization of capital (Harvey,1985) and Henri lefebvre ​social production of space (Lefebvre, 1974) I show the particular characteristics of capital accumulation embedded in the physical environment illustrated by the case studies. Finally, the third part of the paper using the Foucauldian concept of Governmentality ​I finally explore the complex arrangements and assemblages of power relations of the case studies in particular and the low-end globalized nodes in a broader sense. 

3. From Resistance to the Institutionalisation of Right to Housing

Ozlem Celik,Postdoc researcher, University of Helsinki.

This paper firstly, aims to analyse how global processes of financialisation of housing experienced in cities of the Global South, manifest at the local level, more specifically in the case of İstanbul, Turkey. One main challenge to the financialisation of housing in İstanbul is the resistance of poor people who live in working class neighbourhoods, which are subjected to forced evictions and becoming indebted, as a consequence of ‘urban regeneration projects’ in their neighbourhoods. The housing movement reached to a point where the state developed new tools for financial inclusion of the poor as a part of political control in the neighbourhoods and across the city. The second aim of the paper is to examine the role of the state in financialisation of housing in order to reveal different forms of consent created for different groups of society to be included in the financialisation process. The construction of consent carries importance in understanding how and to what extent the ‘right to housing’ is institutionalised, as well as tendencies toward political control of housing movement during the last decade. The paper discusses the two aims by examining the consent of people created in the urban regeneration process in a neighbourhood, called Başıbüyük in Istanbul, where there used to be a militant resistance against urban regeneration. This research is a longitudinal analysis of the neighbourhood during the period of last ten years.

4. Lapinlahti hospital: Informal actors speaking for weak users of public space

Panu Lehtovuori, Professor, Tampere University.

 

5. Temporary re-appropriations of vacant and abandoned urban spaces in Latin America: Agendas, Aims, Motivations and Meanings

Dalia Milián Bernal, PhD researcher, Tampere University, School of Architecture.

This paper is part of a research that maps 24 cases of temporary re-appropriations of vacant and abandoned urban spaces in seven Latin American countries. The aim of the study is to understand how spatial re-appropriations are becoming agents of societal change making deeper transformations in the social production of urban spaces. This article focuses on the actors producing these diverse projects. Based on a narrative analysis of 14 qualitative interviews conducted to the actors between 2018 and 2019, I examine their agendas, aims and motivations to unearth the collective social meaning of re-appropriating vacant and abandoned urban spaces. These stories are then further contextualized through secondary data, including literature review, online news articles, project websites, social media data from Facebook Pages, as well as photographic and audio-visual material obtained online. The findings reveal that these projects are motivated by the actors’ personal agendas, yet all of them aim to transform these urban sites into spaces of social gathering produced through collective action. In their accounts, the actors refer to their projects as some form of public space, such as plazas, civic centers and art galleries open to the public. They tell about the lack of such spaces in their cities or existing spaces being exclusionary, reserved for particular groups. In addition, they bring up surrounding events and circumstances related to the public sphere that motivated them to take action. Insofar, these narratives disclose glimpses of the political arenas in which these projects are embedded, furthering our understanding of the meaning and relevance of their actions, contributing to critical urban theory and the social production of urban space.

6. Feminist Participatory Design Interventions: contesting the social reproduction of urban exclusion in marginalized urban environments 

Brenda Vértiz Márquez, PhD researcher, Aalto University.

This paper  aims at inquiring, from an interdisciplinary perspective, how feminist approaches to Participatory Design (PD) and Design Activism (DA) can contribute to contesting the social reproduction of exclusion from the public space that exists within a marginalized urban community. Taking a project called Peatoniños (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXumLpYGh6A) as an entry point, I will combine theoretical research with a case study of participatory playful public space design interventions in a marginalized neighborhood in Mexico City. My intention is to bring PD beyond its current product and service-oriented applications to the production of the public and public spaces through a feminist and DA framework. Within a non anglo-European context, I expect to describe and map alternative ways to define the ‘public’, the ‘public space’, ‘participation’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’, as well as tracing their linkages and incommensurabilities. I propose that using feminism as a local/translocal framework of solidarity and DA as a subversive tactic may contribute to maximizing the political potential of PD and DA,  deepen our understanding of other forms of living in the city and provide a fertile ground for ideas about transforming urban realities through PD and DA.

7. Heating up the sauna: Dynamics of co-creation without a distinct leader

Elina Alatalo, PhD researcher, Tampere University.

Although co-creation as a concept has become more and more employed and it has spread to different sectors of society, we are still lacking a profound knowledge of co-created processes that have evolved without a clear organizational leader.  We aim to fill this gap by analyzing different phases of co-creation in one specific empirical case. Our research question is: How a co-creation process develops when it is issue driven instead of leader driven? 

Our empirical case deals with building an inclusive space that is a community sauna in Hiedanranta, Finland. It exemplifies a co-creation that is driven by an issue (Marres, 2005), as there is a contested question driving the process, gathering a public of interest around itself. It intertwines diverse actors from public sector, private businesses, citizens, researchers and students. Through action research we have gained insider experience of this process where roles and responsibilities are chaotic and emergent. With the help of an analogue model of Bénard cell (Peltonen, 2006), we have been able to recognize dynamics and phases of co-creation from this complexity. These new findings will help participants in future co-creation processes to better understand their action possibilities.

Marres, Noortje (2005) No issue, no public: Democratic deficits after the displacement of politics. Doctoral dissertation, University of Amsterdam.

Peltonen, Lasse (2006) Fluids on the Move: An Analogical Account of Environmental Mobilization. In Y. Haila and C. Dyke (Eds.), How nature speaks: the dynamics of the human ecological condition (150-176). Durham and London: Duke University Press.