SEEKING SPATIAL JUSTICE IN ASIAN CITIES


Spatial Justice is a joint project of Asian Urban Lab and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Spatial justice has no singular or easy definition. Most broadly, it involves applying a strong and explanatory spatial perspective to concepts and actions regarding social justice. Spatial justice is thus not in any way a substitute for or alternative to social justice. Its primary aim is not theoretical but rather to inform activist groups of new strategies, targets, and tools in their struggles to achieve greater social justice. Increasing justice is the aim, not achieving perfect justice for all. The many layers that define increasing spatial justice include:

– Territorial justice: the allocation of public resources based on need more than numbers—a just distribution justly arrived at (Davies, 1968; Harvey, 1973). See Bus Riders Union emphasis on the special needs of the transit dependent working poor.

– Environmental justice: adds locational discrimination to justice struggles; disadvantaging certain areas and their populations either by public policy (locating incinerators or hazardous waste dumps in poor minority areas) or by geographically uneven environmental impacts (air and water pollution, public health, infant mortality, access to potable water)

– Representative and participatory democracy, especially related to electoral districting and discriminatory gerrymandering (the first use of the term spatial justice).

– Food justice, a new addition based on unequal access to healthy food, urban food deserts, problems of obesity, related to locational discrimination

– Right to the city, the right to inhabit space anywhere, to participate fairly in the social production of urbanized space within and outside cities, reshaping the entire workings of the urban system, including labor and housing markets and the planning process.

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