- Cultural Identity, Power, and Space   click here to open paper content46 kb
by    de Boer, Sara & null, null & null, null | s.deboer@bw.kun.nl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Abstract 37th International ISOCARP Congress

by Sara de Boer
PhD Public Administration
University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
February 28th, 2001

Cultural Identity, Power, and Space
An overview on the relevant theoretical literature on these aspects

1. What is your contribution about?
My contribution is about the relevant theoretical literature on the new emerging paradigm in planning theory, that is, a communicative, argumentative, discursive, postmodernist model of environmental or spatial planning (Habermas, Foucault, Healy, Innes, Forrester, Friedman, Sandercock, Hajer, etc.).

2. What makes it interesting for participants?
From a communicative or discursive perspective on planning, based on the theoretical literature that is mentioned above, I will try to answer the question ‘what can a planner’s role be in creating cultural identity and avoiding spatial segregation?’.

3. In what way would you like to present the content of your contribution?
I would like to discuss the new developments in planning theory as a construction of a new, postmodernist paradigm of planning, rather than simply an incremental adaptation of the predominant, modernist paradigm. According to the latter, planning is a rational process in which meaningful collective goals can be defined, the best means to achieve those goals can be determined, and expert neutrality is possible. In the postmodernist paradigm, however, planning is more than anything a discursive, communicative activity through which planners try to deal with the fragmentation, uncertainty, and rapid change of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. This paradigm is grounded in both Habermas’ communicative rationality and Foucault’s discourse theory. Discursive or communicative planning is about making connections among ideas and among people, changing accepted ideas and attitudes, and producing innovative approaches. It involves negotiating new ways of naming, framing, and dealing with public problems and new roles for both public and private actors.
The focus will be on new ways in which practitioners could (or should) deal with the fragmentation of cultures, identities, rationalities, discourses, and power relations in the everyday practice of spatial planning processes. Habermas has provided principles for managing these practices, such as assuring representation of all major points of view, equalising information among group members, and creating conditions within the group so that the force of argument can be the deciding factor rather than an individual’s power outside the group. Foucault has suggested an alternative approach that explicitly unmasks and challenges power and brings the possibility of empowerment.

4. How are you involved into it personally?
My PhD-project, at the interface of public administration and planning theory, deals with new forms of governing, managing, or organising public space in our age of postmodernity, which is characterised by globalisation and fragmentation of cultures, identities, rationalities, discourses, and power relations.

5. Which one of the 4 sessions would you propose for it?
I would prefer to present my paper in Parallel Session 1: Cultural Identity and Spatial Segregation.
In 1999, the Dutch government published the policy document ‘Belvedere’, which offers a new perspective on the relationship between cultural heritage and spatial planning. In this paper, it will be stated that ‘Belvedere’ is in fact the representation of a new ‘policy discourse’ in the field of spatial planning and cultural heritage preservation.
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