Territories of Social Justice: Violence, Ruptures, and the Mapping of New Spatial Claims

November 2016

Wars, natural disasters, financial crises, and health epidemics produce powerful territorial disruptions at multiple scales. These ruptures challenge the seemingly seamless and ahistorical notions of territories, which have gradually dominated our conceptions and representations of landscapes since at least the 17th century. The exodus of refugees, mass casualties, and homeless populations expose the structures of dispossession that sustain the hegemonic notions of land appropriation that we have so often taken for granted; they also render visible the otherwise concealed labor that goes into the definition and fixing of territorial boundaries at multiple scales (e.g., individual property loads, urban regions, nations). This workshop treats the moments of critical ruptures as powerful opportunities to: (a) examine the injustices and logics of dispossession that underlie hegemonic conceptions of territories and their material and political representations; (b) unravel the labor that goes into the making and maintenance of hegemonic conceptions and representations of territory; and (c) explore opportunities for new claims to be formulated, forwarded, and negotiated, ushering in the possibilities for a more equitable approach to space. The workshop also explores case studies across multiple regional contexts and countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkey, India, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. Participants include scholars working in a multiplicity of traditions, including historical, social, anthropological, legal, and planning/design.