polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Heynen et al. on Urban Political Ecology

Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower in Hanoi’s new business district. Source: Melissa García Lamarca

“The central message that emerges from urban political ecology is a decidedly political one. To the extent that cities are produced through socio-ecological processes, attention has been paid to the political processes through which particular socio-environmental urban conditions are made and remade. From a progressive or emancipatory position, then, urban political ecology asks questions about who produced what kind of socio-ecological configurations for whom. In other words, urban political ecology is about formulating political projects that are radically democratic in terms of the organization of the processes through which the environments that we (humans and non-humans) inhabit become produced.

El Molino housing cooperative in Buenos Aires. Source: Melissa García Lamarca

A sign reads “self-management, collective property, mutual aid” in a toy-share space at El Molino. Source: Melissa García Lamarca

“As global/local forms of capitalism have become more entrenched in social life, there are still powerful tendencies to externalize nature. Yet the intricate and ultimately vulnerable dependence on capital accumulation on nature deepens and widens continuously. It is on the terrain of the urban that this accelerating metabolic transformation of nature becomes most visible, both in its physical form and its socio-ecological consequences.

Central Detroit, looking towards the GM Renaissance Center. Source: Melissa García Lamarca

“Urban political ecology research has begun to show that because of the underlying economic, political, and cultural processes inherent in the production of urban landscapes, urban change tends to be spatially differentiated, and highly uneven. Thus, in the context, of urban environmental change, it is likely that urban areas populated by marginalized residents will bear the brunt of negative environmental change, while other, affluent parts of cities enjoy growth in or increased quality of environmental resources. While this is in no way new, urban political ecology is starting to contribute to a better understanding of the interconnected processes that lead to uneven urban environments.”

— Nik Heynen, Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw in In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism, 2006

This is part of the Polis collection of quotes related to cities.

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