Research Project at the Centre
Justice in the Global City
Our world is globalising; it seems we all know and accept this, but increasingly it is suggested that this globalising world is a cause of injustice. Our contemporary moment is defined by a sense that the injustices we face are profound, multidimensional and global, including political discrimination, racist oppression, gender inequality, a neo-imperial international order and profound lack of economic fairness.
The need for some form of global justice seems obvious, yet the path towards it is much less clear. Despite our recognition that we need to find a more justice social arrangement with global scope, contemporary literature on global justice struggles to comprehend our present reality and existing debates are characterised by excessively idealised approaches. On one side there are attempts to redeem the nation-state as a site of justice, focused on how nationalism can be constrained and community rights balanced against minimal global duties within the state system. While on the other side we have a growing number of appeals for a cosmopolitan conception of justice, rooted in individualism, liberal rights and global institutions. Most work in political theory is not grounded in the contemporary contexts of injustice, but rather draws on idealised national and cosmopolitan accounts of political community that do not actually exist, leaving academic work abstracted from our most pressing problems. However, this need not be the case and this project addresses the limits of contemporary global justice literature by arguing that we need not begin with idealised national and cosmopolitan visions, but rather that we should start with the lived experience of injustice and build upon existing struggles for justice.
Justice and the Global City addresses this gap in the literature, as I explore the question of justice in the context of the global process of urbanisation and the globalisation of cities. I argue for the centrality of the Right to the City in making urban life more democratic and egalitarian for the diverse denizens of global cities. In order to consider the question of justice in context the project focuses on the global city as a distinctive and contemporary political space in which changes in the capacity and nature of the state, alongside the partial and disruptive force of globalised economic flows and transnational institutions, contribute to profound social problems for urban communities, which do not map onto idealised conceptions of the polis. Along with the distinctiveness of the global city as a political space, it is also vital to understand its centrality as a contemporary political space, as the world is increasingly urbanised and cities are ever more independent of national governance structures. This project contributes to and builds upon an important dissident strand of justice theorising that rejects excessive idealism and abstraction, particularly by feminist theorists. It will also contribute to existing literature on urban justice, which has tended to apply existing theories of justice to the urban space rather than theorising justice from contemporary urban experiences.