Cultures of Urban (In)Justice

The theme of the 2019-2020 ASCA Cities Seminar is “Cultures of Urban (In)Justice”. We are interested in examining dynamics of spatial (in)justice from the vantage point of creative, cultural, aesthetic and political practices in contemporary urban environments.

Spatial justice has long been recognized as an urgent and useful lens for understanding urban processes (Pirie 1983, Soja 2009). In this seminar, we will ask how it might be fruitfully expanded to both consider (in)justice as co-constitutive of contemporary urban cultures, social relations and forms of creative expression. In what ways are urban spatial processes bound up with frameworks of (in)justice at the local and ‘planetary’ scale? How are urban imaginaries articulated in relation to contemporary forms of geopower and its unjust consequences? What role does aesthetics – as negotiated by governments, art institutions, commercial actors, but also by artists and social or protest movements – play in diverse manifestations of urban (in)justice? And which inventive methods are being developed to take stock of spatial (in)justice, and intervene in its related assemblages, infrastructures and power structures?

Engaging with and expanding on these questions, the seminar seeks to analyse cultures of urban (in)justice by exploring a diverse set of topics and case studies. We will consider, for example, recent work on crisis and crisis-scapes in urban contexts, “black anthropocenes” (Yusoff, 2018), “ecologies of ‘making do’” (Mukherjee, 2017), “slow violence” (e.g. Nixon 2011, Davies, 2019), and “slow emergencies” (Anderson et al., 2019). In this way, we are not only interested in existing frameworks and manifestations of (in)justice, but also in ways of intervening, ‘repairing’, and ‘hacking into’ these structures and power relations, from a range of geographical locations and critical standpoints.

Semester 1 dates & places:

  • Friday 20 September 15:00-18:00 – PCH 104
  • Friday 1 November 10:00-12:00 -Potgieterzaal, UB;  15:00-18:00 -Potgieterzaal, UB
  • Friday 6 December  15:00-18:00 – PC Hoofthuis 1.04

Fri. 20 Sept. 2019Focused Reading and Discussion. Location: room 1.04, P.C. Hoofthuis (Spuistraat 134), Time: 15:00-17:00

Fri. 1 Nov. 2019:
Patricia Barkaskas (University of British Columbia): Masterclass Decolonizing & Indigenizing Justice: Confronting Colonial Injustice in an ‘Age of Reconciliation’?, Location: Potgieterzaal, University Library (Singel 425), Time: 10:00-12:00
Derek Gladwin (University of British Columbia): Cities of the Symbiocene: Relational Energy Literacy as Spatial Praxis, Location: Potgieterzaal, University Library (Singel 425), Time: 15:00-17:00

Fri 6. Dec. 2019: Elisa Fiore (Radboud Unviersity Nijmegen): Food and White Multiculturalism: Racial Aesthetics of Commercial Gentrification in Amsterdam’s Javastraat”, Location: room 1.04, P.C. Hoofthuis (Spuistraat 134), Time: 15:00-17:00

Organisers: Carolyn Birdsall, Jeff Diamanti, Simone Kalkman and Kasia Mika


ASCA Cities Project website: