Sara Ross

Project Description

My postdoctoral project, Community Consultation Practices and City (Re)Development: Equality of Law for Transgressive Countercultural Spaces, Engaging At-Risk Communities, and the United Nations' New Urban Agenda, evaluates the efficacy of public engagement practices that lead up to municipal legal decision-making in Vancouver in terms of equitable treatment of nondominant and relationally vulnerable communities and individuals. To this end, I examine cultural and community spaces that do not conform to normative categories for property use found in municipal bylaws and policies, and areas where the law is inflexible or unaware of alternative space and uses; including sites of independent artistic activity or LGBTQ-friendly safe spaces that face negative differential effects of existing municipal legal frameworks governing spatiotemporal use. I will also examine Vancouver’s recently revised arts events licensing processes in order to study how this new “friendly legislation” is manifesting and engaging with the everyday lived realities of affected (sub)cultural communities. I argue that successful citizen engagement requires consultation processes that better identify, locate, and access those affected by decisions, rather than passively creating opportunities for engagement that disproportionately cater to traditionally dominant individuals who can attend the time and space within which consultations occur and who feel comfortable making themselves heard in these environments. My objective is to distill the strategies by which current consultation practices can be improved to create more equitable urban (re)development processes and to better comply with international human rights and Charter norms.

Research Interests

Property Law
Comparative Law
Legal Anthropology
Cultural Heritage Studies
Critical Studies
Urban Policy

Research Methodology

Institutional ethnography
Urban Legal Anthropology