Searching for actually existing justice in the city

Miriam Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Locating justice in the city can be a difficult task. Urban theory has focused on exposing injustice and critiquing the multiple occurrences of injustice in cities. But what role could uncovering practices of actually existing justice in the city play in critical theory? How would we begin to look for actually existing justice in the here and now? By adopting a performative ontology and a politics of possibility, I argue that it is possible to expose, propose and amplify (Iveson, 2010) actually existing justice practices in the everyday city. A shift in thinking and research approach may be needed to make theoretical and ontological space for justice. In this paper I discuss research approaches that assist in locating justice in the city. Theorisations of a politics of possibility, performative ontological politics, weak theory and reading for difference are a suite of research practices that make space for the presence of justice. I argue that cities can be sites of actually existing justice practiced as a response to situated injustices or as a way of doing/being/thinking the city differently and demonstrate this with the example of Alfalfa House Organic Food Cooperative, Sydney, Australia. Documenting how justice is expressed in our cities is essential for work that seeks to grow and nurture justice projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2231
Number of pages15
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • geography
  • justice
  • performativity
  • politics of possibility
  • reading for difference
  • theory
  • urban theory


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