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Rethinking housing inequality and justice in a settler colonial city


Naama Blatman, Alistair Sisson


This paper brings the housing studies literature into conversation with scholarship on settler colonialism to consider questions of housing justice in settler colonial societies. It begins from an understanding of Indigenous dispossession as not simply an historical context but an ongoing process in which housing is deeply implicated through its embeddedness in colonial land and property regimes.

Furthermore, processes of exclusion, neoliberalisation, financialisation and gentrification have made housing central to the production of racial inequality in (and beyond) settler colonies. Liberal notions of inequality that dominate most housing policy and some scholarship are, therefore, inadequate; what is required is research and intervention oriented towards housing justice – the meaning of which is best understood through intellectual and practical engagement with movements struggling for it. In this spirit, the paper presents the story of a prolonged struggle in so-called Sydney, which suggests how housing initiatives and campaigns led by Indigenous people are iteratively reconstructing existing political and economic structures in ways that address commodification, dispossession, exclusion, and displacement.

This story points to a need for housing justice scholarship to engage with concepts of reparations – an engagement towards which this paper, in its final section, makes some small but hopefully helpful steps.

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