Projections 12: New Approaches to Law and Planning

Student Editor: Karthik Rao-Cavale (, PhD Candidate, MIT/DUSP

Faculty Advisor: Balakrishnan Rajagopal (, Associate Professor of Law and Development, MIT/DUSP

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 around the world. 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. 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 Third World 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 so-called informal sector in urban settings, both in developed and in developing societies.

This issue of Projections, the MIT Journal of Planning, attempts to identify some of the new fronts for engagement between Law and Planning enabled by recent transformations in Planning at the substantive, institutional, and methodological levels. Stepping outside the realm of public law doctrines related to land use, the articles in this volume demonstrates the relevance of inter-governmental law, private law, human rights law, and legal procedures to planning processes, and vice versa. However, they also highlight the methodological limitations inherent in the emphasis on doctrine, and call for an understanding of the indeterminacy of socio-legal change. More importantly, these articles help destabilize received assumptions about the boundaries between Law and Planning, and offer insights into the ways in which the distinct domains of rationality employed by the two professions are, in practice, thoroughly enmeshed in the exercise of power and resistance.

Volume 12 Editorial Board 

  • 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)