Edward Soja

Edward William Soja (1940–2015) was a self-described "urbanist," a noted postmodern political geographer and urban theorist on the planning faculty at UCLA, where he was Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, and the London School of Economics. He had a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. His early research focused on planning in Kenya, but Soja came to be known as the world's leading spatial theorist with a distinguished career writing on spatial formations and social justice.

In 2015 he was awarded the Vautrin Lud Prize, the highest honor for a geographer and often called the Nobel Prize in the field of geography.

In addition to his readings of American feminist cultural theorist bell hooks (b. 1952), and French intellectual Michel Foucault (1926–1984), Soja's greatest contribution to spatial theory and the field of cultural geography is his use of the work of French Marxist urban sociologist Henri Lefebvre (1901–1991), author of The Production of Space (1974). Soja updated Lefebvre's concept of the spatial triad with his own concept of spatial trialectics which includes thirdspace, or spaces that are both real and imagined.

Soja focuses his critical postmodern analysis of space and society, or what he calls spatiality, on the people and places of Los Angeles. In 2010 the University of Minnesota Press released his work on spatial justice, which was followed in 2014 with his My Los Angeles published by the University of California Press. He also published in the critical urban theory journal City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action.

Soja collaborated on research and writing with, most notably, Allen J. Scott (UCLA), Michael Storper (UCLA, London School of Economics), Fredric Jameson (Duke University), David Harvey (Johns Hopkins, CUNY), Kurt Iveson (University of Sydney), and various faculty in the departments of Urban Planning, Architecture, Policy Studies, and Geography at UCLA.

Soja served as the doctoral academic advisor to many leading scholars in the field of urban theory and geography including Professor Mustafa Dikec (École d'Urbanisme de Paris), Dr. Walter J. Nicholls (University of California, Irvine), Dr. Mark Purcell (University of Washington), Dr. Diane Davis (Harvard University), Dr. Juan Miguel Kanai (University of Sheffield) and Dr. Stefano Bloch (University of Arizona).

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