[URBANTH-L]AAG 2007 CFP: faith, politics and social (in)justices in cities

Justin Beaumont j.r.beaumont at rug.nl
Mon Sep 11 23:48:46 EDT 2006

(Apologies if you receive multiple copies of this message)
Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2007 Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, United States
Faith, politics and social (in)justice in the city
Justin Beaumont, Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI), Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, j.r.beaumont at rug.nl

This proposed paper session explores the problematic relations between faith, politics and social (in)justice in cities. Today marks the fifth anniversary of 9-11 in New York City. The event and the calamitous Bush-Blair "Axes of Evil" and "War on Terror" aftermath in Kabul, Baghdad, London and elsewhere remind us of tense and highly problematic relations between beliefs (progressive as well as fundamentalist and moderate of all faiths), institutional representation of diverse faiths and political action on the world stage, in national arenas and within cities. At the same time national governments, particularly in the US and in the UK, have increasingly revalorized faith based actors in domestic politics of social and spatial (in)justice as the neoliberal assault on welfare continues unabated. Alongside the Clinton, then Bush, faith based agenda and emergency relief by largely Christian charities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in the US, it is now over 20 years since the Faith in the City report exposed the realities of injustice and posited the role of faith actors in addressing social ills in UK inner cities (Faith in the City 1985). The report was condemned by Thatcher at the time of publication as "Marxist", creating a flurry of political debate and the establishment of the Church Urban Fund, but little else. While the recent Commission on Urban Life and Faith (2006) report reveals a less radical and structural analysis, where urban, contextual and Latin American liberation theologies have given way to a concern for practical social problems in "partnership" with government in a somewhat tamer and depoliticized fashion. Far less is known about these issues and their changes in time in diverse socio-institutional contexts. The session addresses contemporary geographies of faith, politics and social (in)justice in cities from an international comparative perspective by addressing the following questions:
* What are the social and organizational geographies of faith politicization against social injustices in cities?
* How can we account for the ideological and political ambiguity of faith actors in urban politics?
* Do these activities reveal faith actors as subordinated partners in the delivery of contracted state services, or are faith groups joining forces with political parties, trade unions and other civic associations as part of new contentious politics within cities?
* What is the role of faith actors in the politics of welfare reform and particularly urban regeneration and their changes in time in different countries?
* Do faith actors have a legitimate role to play in the achievement of the "just city" or do their activities, despite well-intentioned and enlightened theologies, serve to consolidate prevailing social and spatial injustices rather than to radically challenge the status quo?
* Which theoretical and conceptual tools are at our disposal, from urban political economy, politics of welfare, urban policies and geographies and sociologies of religion, for explaining the hypothesized changing role of faith actors in urban social and political issues and their variations by socio-institutional contexts?
You should submit your expression of interest and topic of your paper right away and your abstracts (250 words max.) by 25 September 2006 to j.r.beaumont at rug.nl.  Please consult the AAG website (www.aag.org) for online registration and abstract submission instructions.

Justin Beaumont
University of Groningen

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