16 Pages

Introduction: Finding justice in the city

ByJames Connolly, Justin Steil

The search for a Just City is, in part, an effort to realize the transformative potential of urban theory. It is a search that begins by examining the everyday reality of city life and then seeks a means to reshape that reality and re-imagine that life. It begins with the injustices that have come with rapid urbanization-the violence, insecurity, exploitation, and poverty that characterize urban life for many, as well as the physical expressions of unequal access to social, cultural, political, and economic capital that arise from intertwined divisions between race, class, and gender categories. Awareness of these everyday injustices “thickens our deliberations and provides us with a metric for evaluating our achievements” (Beauregard 2006).1 Whether displaced merchants are challenging the dominant economic development régime, local communities are seeking to direct the remediation of contaminated urban manufacturing sites, or domestic workers are struggling for fair labor standards, actions against specific injustices provide partial, yet continual, challenges to the inequalities in everyday urban life. Awareness of exploitation, and attempts to challenge it, bring us closer to realizing the too often unfulfilled promise that cities have long represented-the promise of liberation and opportunity.2 But to search for a Just City is to seek something more than individualized responses to specific injustices. It requires the creation of coherent frames for action and deliberation that bring the multiple and disparate efforts of those fighting against unjust urban conditions into relief and relate their struggles to each other as part of a global orchestration improvised around the single tenor of justice.