CFP: Proposal for Special Issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on Building Caring Cities & Institutions

Urban Affairs Association > UAA Community News > CFP: Proposal for Special Issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on Building Caring Cities & Institutions
Janet Smith

***In Honor of the Activism and Scholarship of Janet Smith***

Abstract submission deadline: August 15, 2022

We invite papers that can become part of a special issue proposal that reflects on the (always ongoing) project of building more caring cities, institutions, and lifeworlds. The proposed special issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs will be centered around the work and legacy of Janet L. Smith, whose scholarship and activism were profoundly caring. Her work advocated for the empowerment and well-being of city residents through interventions into housing, transit, work, and urban space more broadly (e.g.Smith 1999; Smith 2015). She was also a caring mentor, teacher, and collaborator within and outside academia. 

Urbanists have long critiqued exclusions and intersectional oppressions in housing, labor markets, institutions, and cities more generally (Smith 1999; Smith and Stovall 2008; Beebeejaun 2017). Geographers have noted that our institutions and cities are often fundamentally uncaring (Neely and Lopez 2022). Drawing inspiration from feminist and critical scholarship, we aim to explore the way cities might be (and already are being) transformed by ethics and practices of care (e.g., Williams 2020; Power and Williams 2020). Ethics of care are fundamentally forward- looking: they are invoked (implicitly or explicitly) by activists, scholars and people who envision futures based in connection, commoning, and compassion, rather than competition and capitalism (Bednarczyk 2021; Marchigiani 2021; Parker and Morrow 2021; Jupp 2022). Care practices are visible in the activities and activism of households that sustain and transform communities (Isoke 2011; Sweet 2015). Investments in affordable housing are a way of caring for residents, and can cultivate spaces for caring and change (Power and Mee 2020). Amid crises of climate change, caring for urban environments and health lays claim to a better world for the generations of humans and non-humans to come (Maurer 2021; Riguero-Mas, Anguelovski, and Cole 2021). Cities, institutions, and scholar-community partnerships choose care when they center on people and policies that prioritize justice, equity and inclusion. And within academic institutions, scholars can build networks of collaboration, care, support, and mentorship that defy neoliberal norms of individualism (hooks 2003; Durose et al., 2012; Middleton and Samanani 2021). 

We welcome conceptual, theoretical, and traditional empirical research papers that build upon the themes and scholarship above, that engage with questions below, and that honor the life work of Janet L. Smith.  

  • What kinds of actions, activists, and alliances embody ethics and practices of care in cities? With what kinds of caveats and complexities? 
  • What kinds of caring infrastructures (social and material) are needed in cities? 
  • What material and discursive practices and patterns–historical and current–produce uncaring places, institutions and cities?
  • Who is most affected by a lack of care in cities and institutions? 
  • What knowledge production practices reflect and reinforce caring and transformative scholarship? What silences, omissions, and exclusions currently exist that need to be remedied?
  • What transformative agendas in urban studies are needed to cultivate caring cities and institutions? 
  • How might research methodologies more fully integrate care?


Please submit a 500-word abstract of your paper no later than August 15, 2022 to Brenda Parker ( or Yasminah Beebeejaun (

The proposal for this special issue will be submitted to the Journal of Urban Affairs. If approved by the JUA Editor, final papers will be due on April 1, 2023. Under this scenario, all papers submitted for the special issue would then undergo the normal JUA review process.


Bates, Charlotte, Rob Imrie, and Kim Kullman. “Configuring the caring city: ownership, healing, openness.” Care and design: bodies, buildings, cities (2016): 95-115.
Beebeejaun, Y. (2017). Gender, urban space, and the right to everyday life. Journal of Urban Affairs, 39(3), 323-334.
Bednarczyk, A. (2021). ‘We Are Here to Care’: Gendered Urban Safety in Argentina. In Care and the City (pp. 65-74). Routledge.
Durose, C., Beebeejaun, Y., Rees, J., Richardson, J., & Richardson, L. (2012). Towards co-production in research with communities.
hooks, bell. Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. Vol. 36. Psychology Press, 2003
Isoke, Z. (2011). The politics of homemaking: Black feminist transformations of a cityscape. Transforming Anthropology, 19(2), 117-130.
Jupp, E. (2022). Care, Crisis and Activism: The Politics of Everyday Life. Policy Press.
Neely, A. H., & Lopez, P. J. (2022). Toward healthier futures in post?pandemic times: Political ecology, racial capitalism, and black feminist approaches to care. Geography Compass, e12609.
Maurer, M. (2020). Nourishing environments, caring cities: gardening and the social reproduction of the urban environment in Deindustrial Michigan. City & Society, 32(3), 716-737.
Marchigiani, E. (2021). Healthy and Caring Cities: Accessibility for All and the Role of Urban Spaces in Re-Activating Capabilities. In Care and the City (pp. 75-87). Routledge.
Middleton, Jennie, and Farhan Samanani. “Accounting for care within human geography.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 46, no. 1 (2021): 29-43.
Morrow, O., & Parker, B. (2020). Care, commoning and collectivity: from grand domestic revolution to urban transformation. Urban Geography41(4), 607-624.
Parker, B., & Smith, J. L. (2021). Policy Spotlight: Women’s Housing Precarity During and Beyond Covid-19. Available at SSRN 3896504.
Power, E. R., & Williams, M. J. (2020). Cities of care: A platform for urban geographical care research. Geography Compass, 14(1), e12474.
Simón Rojo, M. (2021). Powering transformative practices against food poverty with urban planning. Urban Agriculture & Regional Food Systems, 6(1), e20021.
Smith, J. L. (1999). Cleaning up public housing by sweeping out the poor. Habitat International, 23(1), 49-62.
Smith, J. L. (2015). Between a rock and a hard place: Public housing policy. Journal of Urban Affairs, 37(1), 42-46.
Smith, J. J., & Stovall, D. (2008). ‘Coming home’ to new homes and new schools: critical race theory and the new politics of containment. Journal of Education Policy, 23(2), 135-152.
Triguero-Mas, M., Anguelovski, I., & Cole, H. V. (2021). Healthy cities after COVID-19 pandemic: the just ecofeminist healthy cities approach. J Epidemiol Community Health.
Williams, M. J. (2020). The possibility of care-full cities. Cities, 98, 102591.

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