Aseem Inam

Sidney Smith Hall, Room 5016 | 100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3G3 (map)

Designing the 21st Century City: Labour Unions & the Production of Urbanism

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The presentation illustrates how social and political movements like labor unions design the city. Labor unions simultaneously shape and are shaped by the spatial political-economy of the U.S. city in highly unusual and influential ways. The presentation examines this phenomenon through original research conducted by the author on two legendary unions, primarily the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas, and secondarily, the United Healthcare Workers East in New York City. The findings show how unions substantially alter the spatial political-economy, that they are among the few organizations countering urban precarity through direct action, and that their success is helped by the spatial features of the city as well as the nature of the local economy. The presentation will conclude with insights into new and powerful ways of designing the 21st century city.

Dr. Aseem Inam is an activist/scholar/practitioner who is Professor and Chair in Urban Design at Cardiff University, and Founding Director of TRULAB: Laboratory for Designing Urban Transformation. He was previously the John Bousfield Distinguished Scholar at the University of Toronto, and the Founding Director of the highly innovative Graduate Program in Urban Practice at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. He is the author of two books, Planning for the Unplanned and Designing Urban Transformation, and is currently working on a third book, partially funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship.

Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street, Toronto, M5S3G3) is an accessible building, with a ramp located at the Huron Street entrance. Closest TTC locations: St. George and Spadina stations, the 510 Spadina streetcar at Harbord Street, and the 94 Wellesley/Ossington bus at St. George Street.

Toronto is in the ‘Dish With One Spoon Territory’. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.


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