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At the Limits of Urban Theory: Racial Banishment in the Contemporary City

Public lecture hosted by LSE Cities

In cities around the world, especially in the United States, processes of socio-spatial restructuring continue to unfold. Often understood as neoliberal urbanism and identified through concepts such as gentrification, these processes entail the displacement of subaltern classes to the far edges of urban life. In this talk, Roy argued that it is necessary to analyse such transformations through a theorisation of racial capitalism. In particular, she drew on research conducted by scholars and social movements in Los Angeles to delineate processes of racial banishment.  In doing so, Roy argued that the standard conceptual repertoire of urban studies is ill-equipped to study such processes.  In particular, influential explanations that invoke neoliberalisation often miss the long histories of dispossession and disposability that are being remade in the contemporary city.  Put another way, she made the case for how urban studies must contend with legacies of white liberalism and the elision of the race question.  Relying on both postcolonial theory and the black radical tradition, Roy demonstrated that what is at stake is not only a more robust analysis of urbanism but also attention to the various forms of movement and mobilisation that are challenging racial banishment.

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  • Ananya Roy

    Ananya Roy

    Ananya Roy is Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare and Geography and inaugural Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. She holds The Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy.

  • Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at LSE and Director of the Urban Age and LSE Cities, a global centre of research and teaching at LSE which received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2016-18. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board and was Director of the Venice International Architecture Biennale and Curator of the Global Cities Exhibition Tate Modern in London. He has previously been a member of the UK Government Airport Commission (2012-2015) and a member of UK Government’s Urban Task Force. In 2014, Burdett was a Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University (2010-2014). Alongside his academic activities, Burdett acts as a consultant to national and city governments, private companies and philanthropic agencies. He was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the 2012 London Olympics and Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism, Mayor of London (2001-2006). He is co-editor of ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’ (2018), ‘The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century’ (2017), ‘Living in the Endless City’ (2011) and ‘The Endless City’ (2007). Burdett was appointed CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to urban design and planning. Other trusteeships: Norman Foster Foundation.