Friday, February 2, 2018 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Heather Dorries


Susan Blight  

Sidney Smith Hall – SS5017A (map)

What Would a Decolonial City Be Like? Speculations on Sovereignty, Planning Theory, and Indigenist Urbanism


At its core, planning is a speculative practice. Imagining alternative futures has long been considered a step towards addressing urban problems. American urbanist and architect Dolores Hayden provides an example of such speculation in her landmark essay What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? In this essay, Hayden develops a feminist analysis to confront the sexist ideologies that shape American cities. By applying a feminist lens to her analysis, Hayden imagines an approach to urban planning that would encourage new forms of non-sexist social and economic organization.


In this talk, I take up the spirit of this question by asking What Would a Decolonial City be Like? Having recognized planning’s role in settler colonialism, planning scholars have begun to grapple with the question of how urban planning theories and practices might be decolonized. However, Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies have been largely absent from these discussions. I will argue that if the city is to be target for anti-colonial struggle, planning and urbanism must begin to prioritize the political agenda that has been set by Indigenous peoples. Drawing on contemporary Indigenous art as a tool for re-formulating key planning concepts, this paper contemplates possibilities for an Indigenist urbanism, which foregrounds Indigenous political goals and articulates a vision for the flourishing of Indigenous urban life.



Heather Dorries received her MScPl and PhD in Planning from the University of Toronto. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University.


Susan Blight, discussant

Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation) is an interdisciplinary artist working with public art, site-specific intervention, photography, film, and social practice.  Her solo and collaborative work engages questions of personal and cultural identity and its relationship to space.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of Manitoba, a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor in Integrated Media, and is currently a PhD student in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT).



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