Invited to present at University of Washington-Tacoma on "Grounding Urban Natures"

For the last week I have been invited to speak at several occasions. First at University of Washington-Tacoma on March 31 at their Urban Studies Visiting Lecture Seminar. The day after I gave a lecture at Portland State University and spend the rest of the week working with the students. Last Monday I had a conversation and presentation with hip-hop artist, rapper and pedagogue Emile Jansen, aka Emiley YX? at Stanford University's Centre for African StudiesWe spoke about Princess Vlei, identities and urban nature in Cape Town. 

The following posts gives information about these events. On 6 May I will be back, to give a Keynote Lecture on 'Urban Studies in the Anthropocene' at the University of Washington, invited by Marina Alberti. I am preparing that talk at the moment.

At the first event at University of Washington-TacomaI focused on the book project Grounding Urban Natures. The talk was part of their Urban Studies Visiting Lecture and we had great discussions on how to think theory and practice across the world. I also was given the possibility to meet their students and discuss with them in the morning. 

Grounding Urban Natures: Approaching urban political ecologies in a “world of cities” with lessons from Cape Town 

March 31, 2014 at PNK 212, 12:30pm-1:25pm — Talk
March 31, 2014 at Anthem, 9:30am-11:00am — Student Session

Abstract. With increasing urbanization and ecological crisis, ‘the urban’ has become the site of increasing attention for understanding problems and finding solutions. This has created simplified policy models that circulate the globe to get inserted into practice—iterations like the ‘resilient city’, ‘green city’, ‘eco-city’, or notions of ‘urban agriculture’ and ‘ecosystem services’. Grounded research that articulates and analyses the history and contested character of urban natures, is however severely lagging behind. This paper and talk provides a reflection on an international book project entitled ‘Grounding Urban Natures’ (co-edited with Sverker Sörlin), which aims to fill a gap in urban environmental history and critical social theory. The book gathers scholars from different disciplines and includes studies from Lagos, Delhi, Dalian, Rio de Janeiro, to Berlin, New Orleans and San Francisco. This reflective paper/talk is divided in two sections in order to provide both the theoretical rationale, aim and challenges for the book project, and an empirical example of my own studies in Cape Town which urged me and my co-editor to start this book project in the first place. The first section departs from the intense academic interest that the intersection of increased urbanization and ecological crises have received and will provide an overview of developments in urban ecology and urban theory. The next section takes us to the wetland area of Princess Vlei in Cape Town in which I will trace the political content and what is at stake when plants and ‘biodiversity’ gets intermingled with memories of oppression. This will provide a background for a discussion of the book’s main objectives on how to re-think approaches to urban nature in a world of cities. 


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