Creating Urban Anorak: critical interventions in social and spatial (in)justice

The idea for Urban Anorak arose in late 2015 as a collaborative venture between doctoral students at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York.  All of us study cities, space or spatial (in)justice in some way and we wanted a way to explore the ideas we were studying and researching with others who are fascinated by the same kinds of issues.

The project began ambitiously with the intention of developing a print journal but we soon realised that there was a space for an alternative format that could be defined by quick turn-around and review processes to allow a conversation and debate to develop between authors.  We wanted to create a blog-style journal that adheres to principles of strong research but that is open-access, accessible and readable by academics and non-academics alike, and we wanted to provide a space for debate, discussion, and critical scholarship in a supportive environment.  We want the review process to be a dialogical experience that fosters collaboration.

We see the resulting Urban Anorak as a complement to existing, traditional academic journals. It will allow postgraduate researchers and early career researchers the opportunity to explore ideas in a non-traditional or traditional format, presented in an academic or non-academic style.  We are excited about using novel formats that do not always lend themselves to print journals.  We envision both conventional essay-style pieces and alternative styles and voices will sit alongside each other to tell stories of urban and social (in)justice. We are equally excited about the diversity of topics that we imagine can grace the online pages of Urban Anorak.  The subtitle critical interventions in social and spatial (in)justice is deliberately broad to allow for exploration of a variety of topics.  We imagine, however, that the following topics will be especially suited to the journal’s scope:

–    Urban questions related to (in)justice: Gentrification; homelessness; urban marginality; infrastructure (i.e. failure/lack); segregation; surveillance, control, policing; local politics/democracy; urban enclosure and commons.

–    Cities and political economy.

–    Non-urban forms of spatial (in)justice: Uneven geographical development; urban/rural inequalities; global North/South inequalities; territorial stigmatisation; issues relating to gender, sexuality, race, class.

–    Addressing social and spatial (in)justice: Social movements; urban activism; the ‘right to the city’; progressive social policy.

–    Theoretical reflections/definitions/clarifications on the nature of justice, injustice, the city, space, borders, territory, power.

–    Methodological questions relating to social and spatial (in)justice.

–    Alternative methodologies; conventional methodologies to tackle questions of justice and injustice.

Although we are based at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, we are open to receiving contributions from writers anywhere.  We seek contributions from academic and non-academic writers and researchers.  As we embrace an alternative format, we also envisage this being a platform for writers to experiment with ideas, to thrash out early plans and receive feedback and debate, or to explore topics in a format not usually permitted in academic journals.

As the name Urban Anorak suggests, we have created a space for anyone with a penchant for cities and urban-related issues and we look forward to seeing where this venture will lead.



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About Urban Anorak

Urban Anorak is a new platform for critical scholarship in social and spatial (in)justice.

We aim to provide an alternative space for anyone with a penchant for cities, urbanism, and social justice issues to explore critical and politically relevant work across disciplines.

We seek contributions from academic and non-academic writers and researchers that offer critical commentary on any aspect of cities and social justice, but also aim to develop a forum for experimenting with ideas, thrashing out early plans and receiving feedback and debate, or exploring topics in formats not usually permitted in academic journals.

Contact us at urbananorak@gmail.com if you are interesting in writing for us or getting involved!

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