About Enlightened City

This research agenda is dedicated to Massimo Rosati (1969-2014) and Ed Soja (1940-2015).

Between 2009-13 the number of Europeans experiencing severe material deprivation rose from 7.5 to 50 million people. Growing inequalities threaten the cohesion and sustainability of cities, which could provide fertile grounds for radicalization. With transnational migration more people belong to two or more societies at the same time. Ensuring that diverse people live together in spaces of tolerance presents a challenge for policymakers at all levels.

This research agenda aims to address inequalities before they become long-lasting injustices. It draws on recent scholarship on spatial justice for a game plan to mobilize inhabitants, activists, artists, architects, religious leaders and policy-makers to avert urban injustices in a regional context.

The project is guided by the assumption that only progressive regeneration policies can tackle injustice. The “enlightened city” is more than a normative dream. It already exists in practices of numerous communities. We will document these practices and articulate policies in their support. The project unites scholars committed to justice at the interface between activism and the academy.

Research sites range from Northern to Southern and Central Europe to Canada, including academic settings and NGOs. Adopting a mixed-methodological approach the research has five stages (1) progressive politics of hope (2) existing and emerging inequalities (3) multiple engagements for spatial justice (4) transnational analysis through cross-evaluation and (5) dissemination through photo- and film- documentaries alongside academic publications.

Empirical enquires focus on (a) democratic decision-making and progressive engagement with citizens (b) alternative publics based on solidarity and equality, while challenging discrimination and stereotypes and (c) artistic and cultural dimensions of regeneration actions.

The research will open new pathways to achieve social and spatial cohesion across European urban and regional territory.

Thoughts on progressive regeneration in the 21st century