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Understanding the Marginalisation of Race Equality in UK Planning : assessing the promise of Critical Race Theory. Richard Gale and Huw Thomas School of.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding the Marginalisation of Race Equality in UK Planning : assessing the promise of Critical Race Theory. Richard Gale and Huw Thomas School of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding the Marginalisation of Race Equality in UK Planning : assessing the promise of Critical Race Theory. Richard Gale and Huw Thomas School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University

2 Planning and planners in a racialised society A familiar tale : -For over 50 years, the changing demography and associated settlement patterns of UK viewed as a spatial/planning problem. -History of urban policy initiatives, but if things have changed, sometimes for the better, not obviously as a consequence of these -Meanwhile, the profession/system persists in not seeing the connection between planning and race equality

3 Why such little progress in connecting planning to race equality ? Explanations proffered: -Nature of professional/admin understandings (eg Beebeejaun, 2004; Ellis, 2001; Thomas, 2000; and especially Reeves, 2005) -Political context/history (eg Beebeejaun,2012; Ellis, 2001;Thomas, 2000) - Planning rarely central to politics of race and immediate concerns of BME communities (Thomas, 2000)

4 All of these approaches imply that with mobilisation and appropriate strategy, something can be done (cf Fincher and Iverson, 2007; Sandercock, 1998) But, how much, and in particular, can the category of ‘race’ be dissolved, analytically and politically.

5 A different approach Yiftachel (2006) and Porter (2010) suggest a different framework for understanding these matters. Within this, a racialised planning is central to the politico-economic project of exploitation and appropriation within a given territory. [Sandercock (1998) influenced by some of same lit, but her examples collapse into lack of prof awareness etc..] Yiftachel and Porter both avowedly deal with distinctive circumstances. Where does that leave the UK? Might CRT offer insights?

6 Critical Race Theory See –eg – Delgado and Stefancic (2012), Goldberg (2001) and West et al (1995) At first sight, not especially promising : developed in the very distinctive post-slavery context of the USA, and in relation to law. But since applied in other policy areas, and in UK. Makes claim about the way racial categories are formed in practices integral to Modern (post- Enlightenment), Western (capitalist) societies.

7 In that sense, asks that race be understood in the way Sandercock (1998,15) suggests gender may be : ‘gender becomes as fundamental to our analysis of the social order as...class, and we regard the relation of the sexes, just as those of class, as socially rather than naturally constituted...’

8 This is plausible Class, gender, physical capacity and race have been used singly and together as measures of moral and economic worth for centuries (eg the ‘working classes’ were typically viewed as a different race by aristocrats for centuries) We have been taught that gendered, racialised etc bodies are the subjects of social ordering

9 Why might we expect this to be the case ? A sketch of one possibility In UK, racial thinking tied to justifying and explaining empire/colonialism and its aftermath (including contemporary global inequities) Except perhaps for relations involving Irish, Jews and Gypsies, racial thinking wasn’t a spoken/conscious reality for many years for majority of population Changed with post immigration

10 But, with exception of Gypsies, racial thinking not often directly required to facilitate goals of planning and development. But a lived reality (as framing category) in day to day British life, including planning. Occasionally, consciousness of racism arises : -When state planning might be direct agent of renewal -When planning persistently foiled distinctive needs of a racialised group (eg places of worship) Significant, too, is the fact that planning is framed by law, is largely concerned with managing land markets and is democratically controlled. In liberal democratic polities, the law, the market and the political processes are all characterised by formal individual equality between ostensibly abstract disembodied individuals.

11 In these circumstances, how might we expect planners and planning to encounter and frame ‘race’ ? -As an intrusion into the formal (ideological) equality of all its key processes -Yet as a lived reality for many who come into contact with it -Increasingly, as a reality involving social relations within the planning system as proportion of non- white people in the population grows.

12 In these circumstances, planners – and planning – will be baffled by the concerns of proponents of race equality – after all, formal equality holds While those proponents will become increasingly frustrated by the blindness of planning and planners to the systemic injustice which they experience, not necessarily (only) in planning

13 What can be done? Challenging stereotypes and institutional cultures is very important. But : Central to securing fundamental progress is challenging the formal equality at the heart of law, market, and polity. The abstract individual of liberal democracy needs to be confronted theoretically and practically.

14 References Beebeejaun, Y 2004 What’s in a nation? Constructing ethnicity in the British planning system Planning Theory and Practice 5(4), Beebeejaun, Y 2012 Including the Excuded ? Changing the Understandings of Ethnicity in Contemporary English Planning? Planning Theory and Practice 13 (4), Delgado, R and Stefancic, J 2012 Critical Race Theory – an Introduction New York, New York University Press Ellis, G 2001 The Difference Context Makes : Planning and Ethnic Minorities in Northern Ireland European Planning Studies 993), Fincher, R and Iverson, K 2008 Planning and Diversity in the City Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

15 Goldberg, D T 2001 The Racial State Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell Porter, L 2010 Unlearning the Colonial Cultures of Planning Farnham, Ashgate Reeves, D 2005 Planning for Diversity Abingdon, Routledge Sandercock, L 1998 Framing Insurgent Historiography for Planning, in Sandercock, L ed Making the Invisible Visible London, Univeristy of California Press Thomas, H 2000 Race and Planning. The UK experience London, UCL Press West, C et al 1995 Critical Race Theory : The Key writings that formed the movement New York, The New Press Yiftachel, O 2006 Ethnocracy Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press


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