Cities, Nature’s and the Political Imaginary

Erik Swyngedouw | Maria Kaika

First published in Architectural Digest.

Despite the seeming accumulation of natural and manmade disasters over the last decade, and increasing urban intensification across the world, there seems to be little or no actual progress in solving urban ecological problems. In exploring a way forward, Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw highlight three potential approaches to urban socio-ecological research and how these might provide a conduit for re-politicising urban nature.

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[1] William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, WW Norton and Company (New York), 1991.
[2] Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol 1, Penguin (London), 1981 [1867], p. 283.
[3] Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology, Semiotext(e) (New York), 1986.
[4] Nick Heynen, Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw (eds), In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Metabolism of Urban Environments, Routledge (London), 2006.
[5] Erik Swyngedouw, ‘Circulations and Metabolisms: (Hybrid) Natures and (Cyborg) Cities’, Science as Culture, 15,2, 2006, pp 105–21.
[6] Mark Whitehead, ‘Between the Marvellous and the Mundane: Everyday Life in the Socialist City and the Politics of the Environment’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 23, 2005, p 280.
[7] David Harvey, The New Imperialism, Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2003.
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[9] Erik Swyngedouw, ‘Impossible/Undesirable Sustainability and the Post-Political Condition’, in Krueger and Gibbs, op cit, pp 13–40.

[10] Donna Haraway. ‘The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others’, in L Grossberg, G Nelson and P Treichler (eds), Cultural Studies, Routledge (London), 1992, and Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, Harvester Wheatsheaf (New York and London), 1993.
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[13] Tim Morton, Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, and London), 2007, and Erik Swyngedouw, ‘Trouble with Nature: Ecology as the New Opium for the People’, in J Hillier and P Healey (eds), Conceptual Challenges for Planning Theory, Ashgate (Aldershot), 2010, pp 299–30.
[14] Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso (London), 1989.
[15] Erik Swyngedouw ‘The Antinomies of the Post-Political City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33,3, 2009, pp 601–20.
[16] Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes, Verso (London), 2008, and Alain Badiou, ‘Live Badiou: Interview with Alain Badiou, Paris, December 2007’, in O Feltham (ed), Alain Badiou: Live Theory, Continuum (London), 2008, pp 136–9.