Planetary public space: Scale, context, and politics

Jason Luger, Loretta Lees

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Citations (Scopus)


What, and where, is public space? Under planetary urbanization, in the digital era, at a time when neoliberal urban development has blurred the line between public and private, these questions become complicated. Public space has often been theorized from, and produced by, the Global North and West: changing global dynamics and power structures necessitate a decolonizing and decentering of spatial theory. We aim in this chapter to outline the beginnings of what such a decolonized theory of global public space might look like. Site-specificity and local context matter enormously in charting the geographies of planetary public space. Conceptions of what constitutes ‘public’ and ‘space’ differ across, for example, the authoritarian and democratic spheres; and subtle cultural practices assign and ascribe different uses and meanings to more traditional interpretations of ‘the square’ and centrality. Further complexities include concepts of ‘rights’ to public space, since rights (legal, political, human, more-than-human) do not translate evenly across global terrains. This chapter critically engages with questions of how to approach and reframe 21st-century urban public space. How, we ask, should public space be theorized when its occupation is governed and restricted by spatiotemporal realities that differ between one place and another? How have digital technologies both replicated, and ameliorated, uneven and inequitable public spaces across contexts? And finally, what patterns and convergences, divergences and differentiations can start to be drawn together from diverse cases to form a workable ontology, appropriate for a digital, neoliberal, authoritarian, and non-western era?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCompanion to Public Space
EditorsVikas Mehta, Danilo Palazzo
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781351002189
ISBN (Print)9781138549722
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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