Friday, March 4th, 2011, h. 11.00-13.00

location: Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Aula Mediterraneo, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Via Columbia 1, piano I

Justin Beaumont is Professor at the Department of Planning, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

This paper presents ideas from a proposal for a new research programme that will develop a new urban theory of justice in accordance with theories of the postsecular condition in order to construct a justice planning tool for urban practitioners. In the last decades the reemergence of religion in the public realm has gained consideration across the social sciences and humanities, as well as within political circles and the media. While the sociological paradigmatic theory of secularization and the political principle of secularism have become increasingly criticized, some scholars introduce the concept of postsecular society within the debate in order to: (a) describe the resurgence and transformation of religion within modern social structures; and to (b) normatively reconsider the relationship between politics and religion in contemporary societies. More recently debates around the postsecular have gathered pace within analyses of cities, and some authors – geographers, planners and theologians – indicate how the concept of the postsecular offers a powerful framework for explaining reconfigured relations between secular, religious and humanist forces in the shaping of contemporary urban societies. However, the meaning of the term in its application to urban planning intervention remain poorly understood. The progrramme will address the following questions: (1) what does the postsecular mean for urban planning practice? (2) how can planners intervene for more just cities under postsecular conditions? (3) what would an innovative planning tool involve to augment more just cities in postsecular society? Deploying rigorous, systematic and internationally comparative research in Amsterdam, Bologna and New York City, the programme will develop a new urban theory of justice to construct a justice planning tool that will allow planners to rethink what is meant by “religion”, “secular” and “justice” to conceive cities as sites of hope and potential rather than dens of despair under global neoliberalism.

Background reading: introductory and concluding chapter of Justin Beaumont’s edited volume “Exploring the Postsecular” is available upon request at: