URBANIZING URBAN POLITICAL ECOLOGY

Hillary Angelo and David Wachsmuth, "Urbanizing Political Ecology: A Critique of Methodological Cityism," International Journal of Urban And Regional Research, 39, 1, 2015, 16-27. 

Our close colleagues, Hillary Angelo and David Wachsmuth, have recently published an article in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research that builds upon and extends several agendas of the Urban Theory Lab in relation to the closely allied field of urban political ecology.  Angelo and Wachsmuth were among the original doctoral members of the Urban Theory Lab during its early years at New York University; they remain members of our International Advisory Board. We are grateful for their permission to post the article here.  Their abstract follows:

Urban political ecology (UPE), an offshoot of political ecology that emerged in the late 1990s, has had two major impacts on critical urban studies: it has introduced critical political ecology to urban settings, and it has provided a framework for retheorizing the city as a product of metabolic processes of socionatural transformation. However, there was another goal in early UPE programmatic statements that has largely fallen by the wayside: to mobilize a Lefebvrian theoretical framework to trouble traditional distinctions between urban/rural and society/nature by exploring urbanization as a global process. Instead of following this potentially fruitful path, UPE has become bogged down in ‘methodological cityism’ — an overwhelming analytical and empirical focus on the traditional city to the exclusion of other aspects of contemporary urbanization processes. Thus UPE’s Lefebvrian promise, of a research program that could work across traditional disciplinary divisions and provide insights into a new era of planetary urbanization, has remained unfulfilled. In this article we trace UPE’s history to show how it arrived at its present predicament, and offer some thoughts on a research agenda for a political ecology not of the city but of urbanization.

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