Other ways of knowing your place: Immigrant women's experience of public space in Toronto

Barbara Rahder, Heather McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The erosion of public spaces and institutions and the widening gap between rich and poor within the current neoliberal city entrenches race, class and gender inequalities. Newcomer communities working to build social relationships bare the brunt of policies that favour competition, individualism, and market-oriented values. In the Toronto context-a city where racialized, low-income communities are increasingly concentrated in underserviced neighbourhoods and increasingly excluded from well-paying jobs-cuts to public programs and services entrench barriers and deepen the isolation of immigrant women. Drawing on a feminist environmental justice framework, this article explores how newcomer women know their place within the neoliberal city. Knowing your place denotes social exclusion and the subtle or not-so-subtle ways that marginalized groups are blocked from using needed public spaces and services, a form of environmental racism or injustice. But we also reveal other ways of knowing your place that involves developing the social commitments and spatial attachments necessary for sustainability. We found that immigrant women in Toronto are actively engaged in the social construction of knowledge and meaning in the city and, with organization and support, could become a significant force for developing more equitable and sustainable urban communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-166
Number of pages22
JournalCanadian Journal of Urban Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2013


  • Environmental justice
  • Gender and race
  • Neoliberal policy
  • Public space
  • Social sustainability


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