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Toward Just Urbanism: Mapping Inhabitants’ Experience of (In)justice in Urban Neighbourhoods

Akbari, Pouyan (2018) Toward Just Urbanism: Mapping Inhabitants’ Experience of (In)justice in Urban Neighbourhoods. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

‘Just Urbanism’ refers to approaches that attempt to tackle social injustice and to address the difficulties of living in unjust spaces of contemporary cities affected by uneven development. This thesis argues that just urbanism cannot be achieved without taking into account inhabitants’ sociocultural aspects and their experiences of (in)justice. Therefore, it offers mapping as a method to explore qualities and themes that influence such experiences and to incorporate them in the just development of neighbourhoods and cities. Gaps in current approaches towards achieving a (more) just city occur as a result of a predominant focus on distributive aspects (quantitative approach) rather than on social aspects, values, qualities and recognition of differences. This research particularly concentrates on the gap in the mapping of injustice and on the digital tools used for this purpose, which often disregard socio-cultural condition of inhabitants. Moreover, there is a disconnect between abstract theories of justice and the everyday situated judgments and design decision that planners, designers and architects have to make. These gaps can be addressed by concentrating on the relationship between the individual and the collective, their position in society and their everyday experiences of (in)justice in the city. The mapping method used in this research is conceptualised as a platform to bring socio-cultural aspects into the digital mapping of injustice and represents particular qualities and conditions that influence inhabitants’’ experiences of (in)justice. Therefore, mapping here is both the subject of the research as well as the research method. To situate the research within a city context, a case study approach (with Sheffield as the case study) and a multi-method approach were adopted. The latter was conducted through three phases of mapping, including Storytelling Map, Map Art, and Mapping Multiplicity, comprising the residents’ perspectives from the individual, one-on-one exchange through to the collective collection of data on the city neighbourhood level. This overall mapping methodology and, in particular, the Mapping Multiplicity platform were put forward as a multi-method mapping approach, one that is more situated in the local context, and, by incorporating local knowledge and recognising individuals, their communities and the diversity of their background, it acknowledges different ways (in)justice is experienced. By doing so, it enables the identification of the particular needs of various communities, whilst providing the spatial context in which they take place. In this way, the proposed mapping method can complement current approaches in order to create a (more) complete picture of (in)justices in the city. Therefore it enables designers, planners and decision makers to make informed decisions that are backed up by thorough research. It also provides citizens with means to create a vision for a just city while being continuously engaged in the process of challenging the status quo and creating and consequently moving toward achieving a more just city. This thesis builds on the work and theories of a number of scholars. To define justice, poststructuralist and Marxist thinkers such as Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser and David Harvey provided the framework. From their viewpoint, the contemporary challenges for justice are manifestations of both vi uneven distribution and the misrecognition of social groups, ethnicities, gender inequalities, etc. In moving toward a just city, Susan Fainstein’s theory which stresses the importance of three areas – equity, diversity and democracy and Henry Lefebvre’s ‘right to the city’ which entails three rights for inhabitants: the right to appropriation, the right to participation and the right to difference, can represent the way this thesis responds to the question of justice and just city. In relation to the mapping methods, Denis Wood and Brian Holmes’ discourse of “counter-Mapping”, a critical method in which mapping is employed to ‘dissent’ and resist the power of the state, and taking the perspective of the marginalised, has influenced the overall methods of mapping (in)justice in this thesis. Storytelling and Map Art were inspired by performances such as Jake Barton’s ‘City of Memory’, while Mapping Multiplicity is in dialogue with the notion of Rhizome conceptualized by Deleuze and Guattari and practices such as Fernard Deligny’s tracings of autistic children, Doina Petrescu’s relational maps of communities, groups, devices, and places, as well as Mark Lombardi’s Narrative Structures and Bureau d’Etudes’ power lines, all of which demonstrate the use of line and relationality in exposing the complex relations among physical, political, economic and social forces.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Mapping, Injustice, Urban, Design, City, Architecture, Inequality, Neighbourhood, Digital
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr pouyan akbari
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2018 10:46
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2018 13:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22004

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