The diffusion and spread of planning has a history as long as planning itself. Sir Patrick Geddes, felt by many to be one of the founding figures of planning, was invited to help plan the city of Madras in India in 1915 in order to help demonstrate the benefits of British rule. Geddes went on to plan a number of Indian and Palestinian cities and developments and he was by no means alone in helping colonial rulers seek to introduce plans and planning, sometimes through negotiation, sometimes in a contested way and in other circumstances through imposition (Ward, 2003). This borrowing of ideas was not confined to developed nations. In post-war Japan, German, British and American planning ideas were rolled out to help reconstruction. More controversially, Ward also claims that Australian planners ‘borrowed’ British planning ideas because ‘the power to make decisions remains in the importing country’ (Ward, 2003, p. 494), a claim that overlooks the indigenous population’s say in such matters. Nevertheless, there are wider points here about the diffusion of planning ideas, the role of power and how planning, in the wider and narrower land use sense, was deployed as a tool of colonization. The colonial dimension of the diffusion of practice and knowledge is an important and growing area of planning thought and research particularly as, despite a widespread retreat from colonial rule by Western powers after the Second World War, the legacy of plans and planning systems has sometimes continued in former colonized countries.
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