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Achmani Youness

Land justice and urban planning : urban fabric of Saint-Sauveur wasteland, Lille-France

par Muriel - 2 octobre 2018

Thèse débutée en 2018

Direction : José Serrano

Research overview

Wastelands’ problematic appears after the industry’s crisis of the 1970’s, after the euphoria of the 30 Glorious. For some researchers though, new industrial wastelands appear “and are no longer the only fact of deindustrialisation but the result of actors’ strategies which are ineffective or incorrect in terms of location and-or product offerings” (Andres, 2008). From the moment when wasteland was considered as a problematic, two forms of urban planning actions were carried out : on the one hand, a defensive and reclaimed urbanism, and on the other hand a space-saving town planning, with sustainability vocation. Both are a form of the construction of the city on itself. But on which way the development of wastelands present a stake, a challenge for spatial justice ? Or how the construction of the city on itself present a challenge of justice ?

Since the 1970s, Anglo-Saxon geographers (Peet, 1971, Harvey, 1973, 1992, Young, 1990, 2000, Soja, 2000, 2009, Smith, 1994) and also French ones (Reynaud, 1981, Bret, 2000) are focused on the notion of spatial justice. "They often tend to favour the idea of a" procedural "justice, defined and negotiated between several stakeholders (and particularly the beneficiaries of public redistributive intervention), rather than imposed from " the top" (Gervais-Lambony & Dufaux, 2009 ; translated by me).

For instance, Harvey indicates that is not possible for him to formulate an abstract definition of justice, but he develops percepts that are presumably, the ones on which people can agree (Fainstein, 2010). He derives from the work of Iris Marion Young (1990) six propositions to govern a just planning and policy practice that incorporate these “everyday meanings”. These are, in brief, the non exploitation of labor power, the elimination of forms of marginalization of social groups, access to political power and self-expression by oppressed groups, elimination of cultural imperialism, humane forms and social control, and mitigation of the adverzse ecological impacts of social projects (Harvey, 2002). In this regard, Bernard Bret consider that John Rawls does not provide any recipe to define a territorial policy. From his universal principles arise the basis of a democratic debate between social partners with equal rights (...) “To achieve this, or at least to get close, there is no other way than democratic debate, a procedure which consider each social partner, as a rational being, equal to each other, and thereby ensuring to everyone the social bases of self-esteem. This is how John Rawls states, and he insists on this precision, a political theory of justice. This is why his theory is also valuable for thinking about spatial planning policy "(Bret, 2009, translated by me). It is not a matter of judging a procedure or distinguishing the just and the unjust, but rather of describing the process leading to the urban fabric : "a fair procedure conveys its character to the result" (Rawls, 1971). To survey the spatial justice in urban fabric, two major directions of research are emerging : on the one hand, to qualify the spatial distribution (goods, services, tangible or intangible assets, ...) if we choose a redistributive definition of justice. On the other hand, to analyze and qualify the policy’s process, in order to identify the respective weight of social groups and their interests so we can understand who influences, who is affected, and who benefits from the resulting policies (Pinson & Reigner, 2017 ; Gervais-Lambony & Dufaux, 2009, translated by me). Urban planning gives rise to a battle between a variety of actors, social groups and organizations, it is a game in the political scene. Though, with democratic debate, negotiations and considering the six propositions to govern a just planning and policy practice, we can define a just rules-in-use. In my research, I will analyze the political (decision) process considering the framework of Institutional Analysis and Development IAD (Ostrom 1998, 1999 ; Ostrom, Gardner, Walker 1994). Below, the figure of the process of institutional development processes according to the IAD.

The three structures of constraints, namely (1) the material/physical conditions of the environment, (2) the attributes of the community and (3) the current set of rules-in-use, affect the structuring of action arena through the allocation of resources to the various actors, the structuring of the conditions of access to information, etc. My research care about the structure of interactions between different actors and how the produced rules-in-use present an issue for land justice.

Expected outcome

The politic against urban sprawl and the emergence of space-saving urbanism, make of the wastelands an opportunity for actors. Though, the appearance of different constraints make the implementation of policies difficult and usually lead to conflictual issues. André Torre consider that “governance is an interaction between forces pushing for cooperation and other forces pushing for conflict” (Torre, 2011, translated by me). My aim is to show how the development of wastelands present a challenge for spatial justice and how can we determine the just rules-in-use between institutional and informal actors. This research contributes to the knowledge of how politics are used to execute decisions. Philippe Gervais-Lambony and Frédéric Dufaux highlight that “the common point of all the work on spatial justice is that they bring at the forefront politic and policies” (Gervais-Lambony & Dufaux, 2009 ; translated by me). Hopefully, it will inspire urban planners and decision makers to take into account the rights to land for every stakeholders (association, institutional and local actors, ...) and to integrate those people in the urban fabric.


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