The history of planning is much more, according to these authors, than the recorded progress of planning as a discipline and a profession. These essays counter the mainstream narrative of rational, scientific development with alternative histories that reveal hitherto invisible planning practices and agendas. While the official story of planning celebrates the state and its traditions of city building and regional development, these stories focus on previously unacknowledged actors and the noir side of planning.
Through a variety of critical lenses—feminist, postmodern, and postcolonial—the essays examine a broad range of histories relevant to the preservation and planning professions. Some contributors uncover indigenous planning traditions that have been erased from the record: African American and Native American traditions, for example. Other contributors explore new themes: themes of gendered spaces and racist practices, of planning as an ordering tool, a kind of spatial police, of "bodies, cities, and social order" (influenced by Foucault, Lefebvre, and others), and of resistance.
This scrutiny of the class, race, gender, ethnic, or ideological biases of ideas and practices inherent in the notion of planning as a modernist social technology clearly points to the inadequacy of modernist planning histories. Making the Invisible Visible redefines planning as the regulation of the physicality, sociality, and spatiality of the city. Its histories provide the foundation of a new, alternative planning paradigm for the multicultural cities of the future.
Making the Invisible Visible A Multicultural Planning History
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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.