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Building a healthy spatial contract

This chapter summarizes the key contributions of the book. It highlights the way the text operates as three interlocking frameworks: an intellectual framework focused on an understanding of the relationship between collectively produced systems and human agency; a political framework which insists on the need for these systems to become the centre of politics; and an analytical framework which understands systems in context, with a focus on exploitation. It further demonstrates the utility of these frameworks by briefly analysing two current cases: the push for universal basic income globally, and the focus on the Green New Deal in the United States. The chapter also lists ten areas where future work is needed.

in The spatial contract

This chapter explains the concept of reliance and reliance systems – the way in which human agency stems from collectively produced systems. It then links this understanding of reliance and agency to capabilities theory, and explains the contribution that reliance systems make to rendering capabilities theory more aware of the materiality of capabilities. The chapter then delves into the nature of reliance systems, focusing on separating the material and functional components of reliance systems. We explain the need to modify social contract theory in order to pursue a better politics of reliance systems, as opposed to other possible political avenues such as rights and deliberative democracy. The chapter ends by suggesting six principles for examining the morality of any given spatial contract.

in The spatial contract
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The introduction lays out the basic intellectual framework of the book. It argues that human agency is derived from collectively produced reliance systems such as energy, transportation and water. These systems are governed by complex formal and informal agreements called spatial contracts, which differ depending on the system, geography and moment in history. These spatial contracts need to become the focal point of twenty-first-century politics.

in The spatial contract

This chapter furthers the development of the analytical framework by focusing on the relationship between reliance systems and exploitation. It reworks Iris Marion Young’s five faces of oppression for use with reliance systems and the spatial contract. These five faces are exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence.

in The spatial contract

This chapter continues the work of building the analytical framework. Rather than pulling apart systems to appreciate their differences, as in Chapter 2, this chapter explains how systems must be seen together as human settlements. This settlements perspective illuminates two important sets of divisions that may hinder the development of healthier spatial contracts – the divide between urban and rural, and that between formal and informal.

in The spatial contract

This chapter focuses on building an analytical framework for understanding reliance systems and spatial contracts. It is based on the argument that we must begin with the system, and understand the politics from the system up, rather than from the politics down. The framework draws on systems thinking to establish how we can differentiate between different systems. It then uses this systems perspective to repurpose ideas from economics which are useful if focused on systems instead of commodities.

in The spatial contract
A new politics of provision for an urbanized planet

This book examines how material systems such as transportation, energy and housing form the basis of human freedom. It begins by explaining this linkage by defining reliance systems, the basic way in which we become free to act not only as a result of our bodily capabilities or the absence of barriers but because of collectively produced systems. As virtually all of us rely on such systems – water, food, energy, healthcare, etc. – for freedom, the book argues that they must form the centre of a twenty-first-century politics. Rather than envisioning a healthier politics of reliance systems exclusively through rights or justice or deliberative democracy, we argue that they must become the centre of a new social contract. More specifically, we discuss the politics of reliance systems as a set of spatial contracts. Spatial contracts are the full set of politics governing any given system, and as such they are historically, geographically and system specific. In order to fully understand spatial contracts, we develop an analytical framework focused on three areas. Seeing like a system shows how systems thinking can enable us to avoid ideological approaches to understanding given spatial contracts, repurposing key ideas from mainstream and heterodox economics. Seeing like a settlement shows how systems come together in space to form human settlements, and exposes key political divides between urban and rural, and formal and informal. Adapting Iris Marion Young’s five faces of oppression enables an understanding of the specific ways in which reliance systems can be exploitative.

Humanitarian diplomacy and the cultures of appeasement in Britain

This chapter examines one year, 1938, in the history of the British Red Cross (BRCS): a year that was not one of its most obviously eventful. Indeed, with devastating conflict raging in Europe, the BRCS, like the British Government, was notable for its non-intervention in Spain. Yet it did play a part in the high drama of European politics, advocating for international protocols on civilian protection in war, and acting as broker and facilitator between movements for civil defence and (territorial) military planning and Government departments at a time when the shadow of European war loomed large. Using the case study of the Red Cross International Conference held in London in June 1938, the local and national history of the BRCS is explored better to understand its relative state of non-intervention in the Spanish war, and how this related to the discourse on civilian protection and civil defence at home. How much the BRCS focused on these national priorities at a time of international crisis is a focal point of this chapter, which explores the broader question of how the Movement as a whole operated and avoided segmentation at this critical political juncture in the final years of peace.

in The Red Cross Movement
The British Red Cross and the Spanish refugees of 1939

In late January 1939, almost 500,000 Spanish Republican refugees fled into France after the fall of Catalonia to the Nationalists. Once in France, the refugees were indiscriminately placed in concentration camps on Mediterranean beaches. Surrounded by barbed wire and lacking shelter, many refugees felt their plight was directly caused by the Non-Intervention Agreement signed by their current host, France, and its ally Britain. While France was obligated to deal with the Spanish on its own soil, many expected Britain to do something to support the situation it had helped create. Thus, the British Red Cross received a £50,000 grant from the British Government to aid the work of the French Government in the camps – a paltry sum significantly hampered by both insufficiency and inefficiency. This case study highlights the close relationship that exists between national governments and national Red Cross societies and argues that, in the Spanish Civil War, the biased ‘neutrality’ of the British Government, through the Non-Intervention Agreement, directly influenced the actions and attitudes of the British Red Cross. It further investigates how the British Red Cross’s work during the Spanish Civil War reveals the priorities and prejudices of the British Government during the late 1930s.

in The Red Cross Movement
The New Zealand Red Cross and the international Red Cross Movement

During the twentieth century, the New Zealand Red Cross was one of the most distant national societies from the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies. Its engagement with them was shaped by its own complicated beginnings, and by both intersecting relationships with the British Red Cross and the challenges imposed by distance. The chapter examines the points of contact between this particular national society and the Movement; whether they were independently sustained or mediated through government actions or the influence of larger societies such as the British Red Cross; and how they changed over time. It is a study of a national society looking outwards, but also of the ways that the Movement’s lofty principles were understood and played out internally, often becoming submerged in the sheer ‘busyness’ of local Red Cross activity within New Zealand. The growing sense of New Zealand’s distinctive contribution to the Movement from the 1960s is examined in relation to the work of its overseas delegates and representatives, and to Red Cross activities in the Asia-Pacific region. A broader question interrogated here is what it means to ‘be Red Cross’ in a particular national context.

in The Red Cross Movement