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Vol. 3 (2022): Reverting the Gaze: Resisting Humanism & Hegemony in the West

A World Within a Block : Negotiating Space in Toronto’s St. James Town

April 27, 2021


St. James Town in Tkaronto (Toronto) was one of the biggest housing investments in so-called Canada in the 1960s. Each of the modernist high-rise buildings was named after a Canadian city, suggesting a vision of unity and coherence indicative of the country’s national imaginary, while also reflecting the nation-building aspirations of the settler-colonial state. In this article, the historical development of St. James Town is analyzed using Henri Lefebvre’s concept of production of space to depict how this site of nation-building and capitalism has been negotiated through an influx of im/migrant communities. Specifically, the term "cornerism" is used to convey the process by which St. James Town residents utilize spaces of interaction to facilitate exchange and foster information flows, thereby linking everyday life experiences with the formulation of a collective identity – as symbolized by the neighborhood’s motto: “A World Within a Block”. Two key points of discussion are considered. First, how the neoliberalized practices of urban development over the last few decades, namely the dominance of condo-towers in downtown Tkaronto, imperil “cornerism” as a practice of resistance by im/migrant residents in St. James Town; and second, the possible negative consequences of a large condominium investment planned in the central point of St. James Town on the socio-economic flows and rhythms of the neighborhood.