Geography and the priority of injustice
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Taylor & Francis (Routledge) / Association of American Geographers (AAG)
Reason for embargo
This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Taylor & Francis
This article considers the challenges that follow from giving conceptual priority to injustice in the analysis of political life. Human geography, urban studies, and related fields of spatial theory meet this challenge halfway, in so far as expressions of injustice through social movement mobilizations are given primacy over philosophical elaborations of justice. However, the privileging of practice over theory reproduces a structure of thought in which justice continues to be understood as an egalitarian ideal against which injustice shows up as an absence or deviation. The practical primacy accorded to expressed claims of injustice inadvertently displaces a model of authoritative, monological reasoning about the meaning of justice from ideal theory onto explanatory accounts and ontologies of space. Basic assumptions about how spatial theory matters to questions of justice are disclosed by tracing the recurrent disavowal of “liberalism” in debates on social justice and the city, the just city, and spatial justice. Thinking about claims of injustice in a double sense - as involving demands on others that require vindication – calls into question the value of inherited ideals of the political significance of the “the city”, by drawing attention to the enactment of distributed public spaces of claims-making, reasoning, and accountable action.