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Urban Political Ecology: Reviewing the Linkages in the Debates for the Global South and North


Since its early stages in the 1980s the interdisciplinary field of Political Ecology (PE) has substantially broadened its scope both theoretically and spatially. Initially, PE concentrated on environmental change and conflicts over access to resources in rural areas of the Global South focusing largely on structural explanations (“Third World Political Ecology”). Later works in PE have adopted post-modernist, post-colonialist and post-structuralist thoughts as well as among others feminist approaches or actor-network theory. Especially post-structuralist scholarship within PE has drawn on concepts like the social construction of nature or hybridity. More recently, Urban Political Ecology (UPE) has emerged as a dynamic research field that addresses the intersections of urban politics and environmental change. Work in UPE has developed theoretical concepts distinct from PE and has largely focused on cities of the Global North. While UPE increasingly also focuses on cities in the Global South, PE research has recently turned to struggles over nature in the Global North.  The workshop aims to review and discuss the insights emerging from the theoretical and spatial broadening of (U)PE, and its possible contributions to the larger debates of linking research in the Global South and North.

Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography, Society and Environment Research Group, University of Manchester

Erik Swyngedouw earned his PhD under the supervision of David Harvey at John Hopkins University in 1991. He is currently Professor of Human Geography at the University of Manchester (since 2006). Previously he held a professorship at Oxford University (2004-2006). His research focuses on political economy and political ecology with a particular interest in theorizing nature-society relations and historical-geographical materialist analysis of water in a variety of geographical settings (Europe, Latin America, United States). His writings include seminal works on (urban) political-ecological theory. His most recent work concentrates on democratic politics and new political movements debating dynamics of de-politicisation and insurgent urbanism.