Susan Parnell

Making cities fair

“Changing ideas and practices for making cities fair.”

Tuesday 18.06.2013

Starting with questions about what an increasingly urban world implies for fairness at the national or global scale in the 21st century, the geographical reference points for this investigation of “fair cities” are both northern and southern urban places. This lecture traces the divergent and contradictory intellectual and practice based traditions that the notion of fairness in the city implies, including the work on urban equity (rights, opportunity, access, affordability); justice (electoral; procedural, distributional, enforcement and); redistribution (urban welfare and post conflict); the public good and the good city. The central point is to demonstrate that ideas and practices about fairness in the city vary over time and space and that while there is appropriate concern about rising exclusion and the withdrawal of social protection in some centres, typically older more affluent cities, from new urban nodes, largely in the global south, there are counter tendencies and new innovations that support the utopian aspiration that cities will provide a better future for the millions of new residents that will call them home over the decades to come.

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Professor Susan Parnell is an urban geographer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences and is the Director of the 'CityLab' at the University of Cape Town (UCT) African Centre for Cities. Susan Parnell’s early academic research was in the area of urban historical geography and focussed on the rise of racial residential segregation and the impact of colonialism on urbanisation and town planning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1994 and democracy in South Africa her work has shifted to contemporary urban policy research (local government, poverty reduction and urban environmental justice). By its nature this research is not been purely academic, but has involved liasing with local and national government and international donors.

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