Round Table Spatial Justice Post-COVID-19, Call for Contributions


May 26 2021, 18:00 (CET), 12:00 (US East Coast)

“Spatial (In)Justice in the Post-COVID City”

COVID-19 was initially seen as the “great equaliser”. After all, a virus is not supposed to discriminate based on the class, gender, or race. Only the elderly should fear. The pandemic would finally bring us together against a common enemy. But it soon became obvious that social-spatial inequalities have a crucial role in infection and morbidity rates, not to mention the many different ways in which disadvantaged minorities and groups are affected. In the West, most white well-off citizens are able to shelter in place and work from home, while black and brown citizens must work in the frontline of the pandemic, often in “essential jobs” that are paradoxically the worst paid ones. Decisions to “open up the economy” can be equated to racist provisions, as they condemn black and brown citizens who must earn their living outside their homes to go out and face the virus. In the Global South, informal urbanisation in the form of slums has made sheltering in place strenuous, as people often live-in cramped conditions and don’t have access to running water and reliable electricity. Children without access to the internet are deprived of online education. These are just some of the examples of how the pandemic has highlighted structural spatial inequality and injustice. 

While we must critically reflect on the injustices of the present, we also would like to begin thinking about the impact of COVID on cities in the future.  How will COVID impact public transportation, views on social housing provision, density, vacant office space in centre cities and the flow of residents to suburbs that has already begun in the West?  Will these new realities cement spatial injustices or do they provide an opportunity to reimagine urban spaces?

In view of the likelihood that pandemics will continue to ravage our cities and communities in the future, highlighting spatial injustice, what are policies, experiences and ideas that address this challenge? How can universities contribute to this discussion and prompt policymakers to act? How can universities support struggling communities in finding solutions that will deliver increased social cohesion, social sustainability, and resilience?

The Spatial Justice Network organised a roundtable to discuss these issues with the help of 5 contributors from all over the world.

Link to Zoom Recording of the meeting (copy and paste into your browser):

Passcode: V6LY!#hm 


The Spatial Justice Network

We are a group of scholars and practitioners working with Spatial Justice.

This network seeks to develop an international and interdisciplinary Spatial Justice community to advance the theory of spatial justice through the development of concepts and methods by which spatial justice can be explored individually and comparatively. This network builds upon existing (but limited) research on spatial justice through the inclusion of scholars/researchers engaged in spatial justice research from across the globe. Through a united, directed and organised network the goal of advancing the field of study related to spatial justice can be reached.

For the past several decades, spatial justice has been presented as a conceptual framework to understand and address the grave inequalities facing cities, countries and continents. However, while the concept holds much promise, the theory of spatial justice is under explored and the methods by which spatial justice can be studied are in need of development. The SJ Network is envisioned to be an entity that will develop conceptual and methodological innovations in spatial justice research through a collaborative process which engages scholars and researchers from around the world (currently over 90 scholars/researchers at 30 institutions intend to participate).

The SJ Network will contribute to the development of new research and educational practices that will expand the concept of spatial justice, bringing it into curriculums around the world in a coordinated way. Specifically, the SJ Network will seek to build knowledge in the following areas: best practices for support of spatial justice education and practice; respectful ways to do community-based research using both qualitative and quantitative scientific research methods; research projects that are community inspired and of significance for communities of color and disadvantaged communities; and innovative undergraduate and graduate development programs and strategies. These activities will lead to a fuller understanding of the theory of spatial justice, develop new methodologies for applying/examining spatial justice and establish a mechanism by which spatial justice can be measured.

The use of interdisciplinary and international collaboration envisioned in this RCN will result in the creation of a comparative model through which spatial justice can be more fully explored, and generate a repository of ideas and methodologies for teaching, learning and researching spatial justice.

Steering Committee Members for the Spatial Justice Network (SJ Network) include:

Dr. Russell M. Smith (Winston-Salem State University),

Dr. Selima Sultana, (University of North Carolina at Greensboro),

Dr. Susan Fainstein (Harvard University),

Dr. Roberto Rocco (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands),

Dr. Andreas Philippoulos-Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster, UK),

Dr. Andrew Vall (Oregon State University), Dr. Elise Barella (Wake Forest University),

Dr. Elizabeth Herbin-Triant (University of Massachusetts – Lowell),

Dr. Tony Reames (University of Michigan),

Dr. Paul Jargowski (Rutgers University)

(A comprehensive list of all members will be made available soon)

A Manifesto for the Just City

This book addresses the need to re-imagine and re-conceptualise the Just City in light of recent systemic shocks: climate change, the pandemic, a generalised erosion of democratic standards and more. It contains texts by a number of guests and 43 manifestos written by students from 25 universities from all over the world.

A “Manifesto for the Just City” comes in the wake of the realisation that socio-spatial justice is a crucial dimension for sustainability transitions. Growing inequality and the erosion of the public sphere undermine the social and political structures required to fight climate change, pandemics and other systemic shocks. With this book, we have sought to encourage students to formulate their own visions for the Just City and for a just transition.

This book is result of an Urban Thinkers Campus organised between 9 and 30 November 2020. The Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) model is an initiative of UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, conceived in 2014 as an open space for critical exchange between stakeholders and partners. It aims to promote debate and action on sustainable and inclusive urbanization upholding the principles and guidelines contained in the New Urban Agenda, launched at Habitat-III in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.

This book is available for free download HERE.