Call for Abstracts: Projections 12

"Rethinking the Role of Law in Urban Planning, Policy and Development"

Projections (Vol. 12)

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

Due date for abstracts: 30th of October 2014

It is well recognized that Law has played an important role in institutionalizing the field of Planning, as well as in shaping the processes of urban development. The engagement of planning academia with legal scholarship has, however, largely been limited to issues of zoning, development controls, and other aspects of land use, though planners’ interventions are no longer confined to these domains. Planners’ understanding of law has artificially restricted itself to linear and single-scale approaches, instead of considering urban planning in a global legal frame. Moreover, planners have not fully engaged with established traditions of legal analysis such as socio-legal studies, legal realism, critical race and feminist legal theory, and a variety of non- European critiques. Instead, planners’ engagements with Law have typically followed the liberal model which conflates legal doctrine with the complex relationship between Law and social processes. Liberal legalism has been, for example, particularly ill-suited to understand the rapid expansion of the informal sector in urban settings, both in developed and in developing societies.

The new issue of Projections, the journal of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will attempt to channelize attention to the role of Law in the planning academy. By bringing new perspectives and methods of legal analysis into urban planning scholarship, it will seek to bring Planning and Law in closer conversation with each other, and encourage critical traditions in each to dialogue with each other. Scholars and practitioners of Law, Planning, Geography and other social sciences are invited to submit abstracts of articles proposed for publication in this volume of Projections. The editors of this volume welcome articles containing empirical research as well as essays that delve into theoretical questions on the role of Law in urban planning. The editors are also particularly interested in insights from regions of the world that have been otherwise under-represented in planning scholarship, and modes of legal analysis that contest the Euro-centrism inherent in both Law and Planning.

The scope of this volume includes, but is not limited to, heterodox legal analysis on topics related to processes of urbanization such as:

  1. tenure security in informal settlements;

  2. governance of land and displacement;

  3. decentralization and local governments;

  4. urban labor market institutions; 

  1. urban poverty alleviation programs;

  2. special economic zones and international trade;

  3. housing mortgage market and other financial institutions;

  4. infrastructure (water, electricity, transportation and waste management);

  5. human rights and urban planning including the right to the city;

  6. mega-events and international tourism; and

  7. crime, violent conflict and urban policing.

Authors interested in publishing their articles in this volume are requested to email the student editor an abstract of about 300-600 words. Any further enquiries on the scope of the volume may be directed to Karthik Rao-Cavale (

Due date for abstracts: 30th of October 2014 Notification to selected authors: 15th of November 2014 Full Papers due: 15st of February 2014
Results of Peer review: 28th April 2015
Publication date (tentative): Summer/Fall 2015

Student Editor: Karthik Rao-Cavale ( PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Studies and Planning Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Faculty Advisor: Balakrishnan Rajagopal (
Associate Professor of Law and Development, Department of Urban Studies and Planning Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Editorial Board of Volume 12

  • Gabriella Carolini (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Marie Huchzermeyer (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Peter Marcuse (Columbia University)
  • Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University)
  • Susan Silbey (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Eran Ben-Joseph (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 
  • Boaventura de Sousa Santos (University of Coimbria) 
  • Antonio Azuela (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)