The Journal of Urbanism – Call for Papers, DIY Urbanism

The Journal of Urbanism – Call for Papers

Special Issue: DIY Urbanism

Guest Editor, Donovan Finn, PhD, Stony Brook University

A new attitude toward public space is emerging in cities across the globe. Though certainly not a new phenomenon, citizens are increasingly using urban space to advance political and social justice goals through protest, occupation, unsanctioned modification, and other means. Of particular relevance to planners, urban designers and local policymakers are the actions called, variously, do-it-yourself (DIY), tactical or guerilla urbanism. DIY activities engage the increasingly blurry distinctions between design and activism through which individual actors have become increasingly empowered to create and implement low cost interventions in public space aimed at solving fine-grained urban dilemmas. Though often illegal or at best unsanctioned, DIY interventions are increasingly lauded within certain activist segments of the planning, design and social justice communities as pragmatic and fiscally prudent approaches to addressing unmet needs of urban residents in the face of municipal fiscal crises, increasing privatization of public space and other recent trends.

DIY efforts offer a unique opportunity to celebrate citizen-based action and make urban spaces more vibrant, sustainable and user-friendly. But such unsanctioned interventions also raise important questions and issues for planners, designers and local governments as they seek to provide safe, equitable access to urban infrastructure, amenities and resources. Additionally, quasi-DIY tactics are sometimes co-opted by local governments, thus complicating their allure as forms of grassroots expression or dissent.

This special issue of The Journal of Urbanism on the topic “DIY Urbanism” seeks to better understand this phenomenon as it is playing out in cities across the globe, and to analyze these actions in ways that are useful for practitioners tasked with shaping and managing urban public space. Although the concept of DIY urbanism has been reported broadly in the popular press and the internet blogosphere, there is thus far a dearth of scholarly research on the topic. Thus, we encourage rigorous, well-researched scholarship that heightens the level of analysis of this important topic, critically examines the DIY phenomenon and investigates how a better understanding of it can advance place making and urban policymaking locally and globally.

Possible paper topics include:

• Historical, political and theoretical analyses of the DIY phenomenon

• DIY urbanism as a participatory planning tactic

• Potential harms and benefits of DIY approaches

• DIY urbanism as an environmental justice strategy

• DIY urbanism as a driver of economic development

• Implications of DIY tactics for creating sustainable local food systems

• Conflicts between DIY approaches and anti-gentrification and anti-displacement efforts

• Utility of DIY urbanism as a trigger for local sustainability initiatives

• Implications of DIY approaches for the architecture, urban design and planning professions

• Case studies or examples of DIY projects or tactics

• Implications of a burgeoning DIY mentality for planning, design and public policy education

• Public health, public safety and mental health implications of various DIY interventions

• Participation in DIY activities and associated impacts on social capital, neighborhood cohesion, crime reduction and associated phenomena (as well as, conversely, social conflict, division, disputes, etc.)

• Explication of the forces driving DIY efforts, including sociological analysis of the DIY practitioner community

We welcome papers from multiple geographies, perspectives and scales, with various methodological approaches. We encourage papers that investigate DIY urbanism from different angles including theory, application, practice implications, and education.

Submit your 5,000 – 6,000 word paper to the Journal of Urbanism at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com:80/rjou by November 1, 2012. On page 5 of the submission process, on the “Details and comments” page, check “yes” under “Is the manuscript a candidate for a special issue?” In the box, enter “DIY Urbanism” as the special issue title.

For further information please contact Donovan Finn donovanfinn@yahoo.com or Emily Talen etalen@gmail.com

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