Care spaces in times of crisis: Designing urban public spaces of play in the Global South

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Care spaces in times of crisis: Designing urban public spaces of play in the Global South

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The current health crisis has re-exposed one of the most important contradictions of contemporary capitalist urbanization: although cities are more powerful and populated than ever, they are also more unequal, divided and less caring for all. In the midst of this pandemic, while the privilege urban elites are generally able to pay for and access to the care, shelter or leisure they need to sustain their daily lives, for the most deprived populations of growing metropolises, especially in the global South, this is becoming more difficult or outright impossible. The rising of urban inequality is indicative of today’s crisis of care and social reproduction—a crisis highly gendered and racialized, in which people’s capacities for sustaining and replenish their lives are stretching to the breaking point. This research focuses on a little attended but crucially important site of the everyday life, especially for children: open public spaces for play—particularly in Mexico City’s growing periphery, where these spaces are experiencing a considerable shrinkage and deracination. Its aim is to investigate how open public spaces for play might be expanded and reinvented against current restrictions and the acute crisis of care and social reproduction. The research will be developed as an inquiry process in which theory and practice will be in constant dialogue. A theoretical framework will be constructed around the fields of Design, Urban studies, and Feminist Social Reproduction theory. The practice-based part will build on imaginative and participatory design methods to develop spatial interventions that will be employed as playful devices, in order to inquire the concerns and horizons regarding play as care. Through a highly interdisciplinary approach, the research will challenge the established idea that, in times of uncertainty, play spaces do not represent an alternative to the regimes of everyday inequality, particularly in the growing megacities of the global South.
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Brenda Victoria Vértiz Márquez
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Koneen Säätiö_202006118


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Urban inequality