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Making the Invisible Visible A Multicultural Planning History

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This collection re-presents planning history. It begins with an exposé of the "official story"--the heroic tale of the modernist planning project. In this view, planning is the voice of reason in modern society, the carrier of the Enlightenment mission of material progress through scientific rationality. The modernist story tells of planning by and through the state, as part of a tradition of city-building and nation-building. Its themes are well worn: the rise of the profession, its key thinkers and thoughts, its institutionalization, its achievements and frustrations. Modernist planning histories have assumed that planning is a progressive practice, rather than scrutinizing the class, race, gender, or ethnic biases of planning ideas and practices. This collection adopts a range of critical and theoretical lenses--feminist, postmodern, and postcolonial--through which to re-present planning's histories. In so doing it makes hitherto invisible practices and agendas of exclusion visible. The book focuses on two areas of exclusion: planning's noir history and its insurgent history.

The most conspicuous omission from the official story of "the rise of planning" is the absence of all but white professional males on the historical stage. Where are women? Where are African Americans; Native Americans; Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese Americans? Where are they both as subjects, doing planning, and as objects, on the receiving end? The book advances explanations for their erasure from history.

There is also the untold story of planning's role as spatial "policeman." The exclusionary zoning against nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants; the restrictive covenants against Mexicans, Jews, and blacks in the first half of the twentieth century; the "planned reservations" for Native Americans and the internment camps for Japanese Americans; the many regulations preventing gays and lesbians from openly occupying and using certain spaces and places--all reveal the need for a broader reinterpretation of the work of planning as the restriction and control of certain bodies in space: those of women, racial minorities, the poor, indigenous peoples.

If we define planning as not only city-building, but also community-building, then we invite a more inclusive set of narratives of "planning from below," often against the state. These narratives include African American, Latino, and Asian American communities, who have all responded to their exclusion from mainstream planning by developing counter- (or insurgent) planning traditions involving self-help, community solidarity, and community organizing for socioeconomic development. Each of these stories demonstrates the ordinary people's ability to plan on their own behalf despite, or perhaps because of, the forces of exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination that have characterized professional planning practice since its inception. Most of the book's essays focus on the United States, but the themes are relevant to the global need for revisionist planning histories.