, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 261–272

Contesting racialization in a neoliberal city: cross-cultural collective formation as a strategy among alternative social planning organizations in Toronto


DOI: 10.1007/s10708-009-9305-6

Cite this article as:
Viswanathan, L. GeoJournal (2010) 75: 261. doi:10.1007/s10708-009-9305-6


Many cities in the twenty-first century are increasingly culturally diverse and neoliberal due to processes of political, economic, and cultural globalization. While the need to examine the disjuncture between neoliberal ideology and practice remains paramount (Brenner and Theodore in Antipode 34(3):349–379, 2002), the implications of neoliberal policy on the actual experiences and activities of diverse groups in the city require further study (Hackworth in The neoliberal city: governance, ideology, and development in American urbanism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2007). This article contributes to urban studies engaging discourses about the practical rather than purely ideological aspects of neoliberalism, and discourses about the experiences of racialization in North American cities. Through a case study of social planning practices in contemporary Toronto, the author shows how neoliberal policies have shaped social planning in Toronto since 1998, and how several cross-cultural organizations representing Chinese, continental-African, Latino-Hispanic and South Asian communities were compelled to develop a collective to jointly contest the racialization of their communities. The cross-cultural collective’s work forces a reconsideration of what constitutes mainstream Toronto and offers an alternative approach to the dominant social planning in the city; however, it is not sufficient to replace the pervasive neoliberal hegemony as long as it remains caught up within its structures.


Collective identityNeoliberalismRacializationSocial planningToronto

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Urban and Regional PlanningQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada