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Seeking Spatial Justice

2010
Author:

Edward W. Soja

Seeking Spatial Justice

An innovative new way of understanding and changing the unjust geographies in which we live

In Seeking Spatial Justice, Edward W. Soja argues that justice has a geography and that the equitable distribution of resources, services, and access is a basic human right. Building on current concerns in critical geography and the new spatial consciousness, Soja interweaves theory and practice, offering new ways of understanding and changing the unjust geographies in which we live.

When one of the leading urban theorists in the world brings his thinking to bear on the meaning of contemporary urban social movements the result is this brilliant book that shows that another city is possible and explores the ways to achieve it.

Manuel Castells, Professor Emeritus of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley

In 1996, the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union, a grassroots advocacy organization, won a historic legal victory against the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. The resulting consent decree forced the MTA for a period of ten years to essentially reorient the mass transit system to better serve the city’s poorest residents. A stunning reversal of conventional governance and planning in urban America, which almost always favors wealthier residents, this decision is also, for renowned urban theorist Edward W. Soja, a concrete example of spatial justice in action.

In Seeking Spatial Justice, Soja argues that justice has a geography and that the equitable distribution of resources, services, and access is a basic human right. Building on current concerns in critical geography and the new spatial consciousness, Soja interweaves theory and practice, offering new ways of understanding and changing the unjust geographies in which we live. After tracing the evolution of spatial justice and the closely related notion of the right to the city in the influential work of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and others, he demonstrates how these ideas are now being applied through a series of case studies in Los Angeles, the city at the forefront of this movement. Soja focuses on such innovative labor–community coalitions as Justice for Janitors, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Right to the City Alliance; on struggles for rent control and environmental justice; and on the role that faculty and students in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning have played in both developing the theory of spatial justice and putting it into practice.

Effectively locating spatial justice as a theoretical concept, a mode of empirical analysis, and a strategy for social and political action, this book makes a significant contribution to the contemporary debates about justice, space, and the city.

Seeking Spatial Justice

Edward W. Soja is Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, and for many years was Centennial Visiting Professor in the Cities Programme, London School of Economics. He is the author of Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Theory, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, and Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions.

Seeking Spatial Justice

When one of the leading urban theorists in the world brings his thinking to bear on the meaning of contemporary urban social movements the result is this brilliant book that shows that another city is possible and explores the ways to achieve it.

Manuel Castells, Professor Emeritus of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley

A coherent and detailed account of Marxist geographies after the spatial turn.

H-Net Reviews

Soja’s ideas and passion for spatial justice and a new spatial consciousness are commendable and long overdue.

Economic Geography

Seeking Spatial Justice possesses much of value. As a chronicle of Soja’s long and productive career, it is enlightening. The bibliographic essay that concludes the book is an excellent resource for anyone seeking the richness of theories of spatial justice. And the encomium for the Right to the City movement that appears off and on throughout the book is particularly welcome at a moment when signs of progressive organizing around critical urban issues are all too few and far between.

Left History

Once in a while ... research is presented that affirms an as-yet un- or under-articulated approach that, once described, seems obvious; or, just as rarely, an approach is described that affects the way we think about or experience the social setting in which we work. Edward Soja’s new book manages to accomplish both of these highly desirable ends by offering a “critical geography” that immediately seems vital, while at the same time offering a series of insights and examples that help develop a framework for understanding the “spatial” dimensions of social justice.

Labour/Le Travail

Soja is successful in making a strong argument for local inhabitants producing space and fighting for the right to use it and this book reads much like a handbook to the social production of space.

Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie

Soja’s book is opportune in that it both raises questions about the theoretical role of the spatial in addressing injustice, but also in developing an empirical account of these practices in a particular place.

The Geographical Journal

Seeking Spatial Justice proves the power of spatial cognizance in theory and practice with its address of the Bus Riders Union decision and related instances of injustice and reactionary activism in the Los Angeles region.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

Seeking Spatial Justice displays great intellectual maturity. It offers insight into major contemporary debates in the social sciences and in the applied fields of regional and urban planning, while embracing normative reasoning and direct engagement with current community-based struggles. It shows that engages scholarship is not only possible but also very fruitful.

Journal of Regional Science

With the rapid urbanization of the populations across the world, Seeking Spatial Justice is a timely book that reminds us that space matters.

Contemporary Sociology

This book would make a good companion piece in geography, social work, and sociology courses that address social theory and social justice issues broadly, as well as those that examine the changing roles of academics in promoting social activism.

Social Service Review

Edward Soja continually establishes himself as a predominant voice in the field. His work on
urbanization, globalization, postmodernity, critical spatial theory, and geography place him at the center of the recent academic spatial turn.

Journal of Religion, Identity, and Politics

Well written, coherent, clearly structured and provides a good level of theoretical depth and range.

Geografiska Annaler B