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“Emancipatory Circuits of Knowledge” for Urban Equality: Experiences From Havana, Freetown, and Asia

Published in Urban Planning, 7 (3)

By Stephanie Butcher, Camila Cociña, Alexandre Apsan Frediani, Michele Acuto, Brenda Pérez‐Castro , Jorge Peña‐Díaz, Joiselen Cazanave‐Macías, Braima Koroma, and Joseph Macarthy


Feminist, Southern, and decolonial thinkers have long argued that epistemological questions about how knowledge is produced and whose knowledge is valued and actioned are crucial in addressing inequalities, and a key challenge for planning. This collaborative article interrogates how knowledge is mobilised in urban planning and practice, discussing three experiences which have actively centred often-excluded voices, as a way of disrupting knowledge hierarchies in planning. We term these “emancipatory circuits of knowledge”—processes whereby diverse, situated, and marginalised forms of knowledge are co-produced and mobilised across urban research and planning, to address inequalities. We discuss experiences from the Technological University José Antonio Echeverría (CUJAE), a university in Havana, Cuba, that privileges a fluid and collaborative understanding of universities as social actors; the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre, a research institute in the city of Freetown, which curates collective and inclusive spaces for community action planning, to challenge the legacies of colonial-era planning; and the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, a regional network across Asia, which facilitates processes of exchange and co-learning which are highly strategic and situated in context, to advance community-led development. Shared across these “emancipatory circuits” are three “sites of impact” through which these partners have generated changes: encouraging inclusive policy and planning outcomes; shifting the planning praxis of authorities, bureaucrats, and researchers; and nurturing collective trajectories through building solidarities. Examining these three sites and their challenges, we query how urban knowledge is produced and translated towards epistemic justice, examining the tensions and the possibilities for building pathways to urban equality.

Suggested citations: Butcher, S; Cociña, C; Frediani, A. A.; Acuto, M; Pérez‐Castro, B; Peña‐Díaz, J; Cazanave‐Macías, J; Koroma, B; and Macarthy, J (2022). Emancipatory Circuits of Knowledge” for Urban Equality: Experiences From Havana, Freetown, and Asia. Urban Planning (ISSN: 2183–7635) 2022, Vol 7, Iss3, Forthcoming,



Key Words: Asia; co-production; epistemic justice; Freetown; Havana; knowledge translation; participation; planning; urban equality


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