Defining Resilience in Miami-Dade County: Social, Ecological, and Technological Visions of Resilience to Sea Level Rise and Extreme Events

Authors: Allain Barnett*, Florida International University, Kevin Grove, Florida International University, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University
Topics: Urban Geography, Global Change, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: resilience, design, urban planning, social-ecological systems, social justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Resilience has becoming a key organizing concept for urban planning and land-use policy in many cities facing the impacts of climate change. As members of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network, Miami Dade County and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach have taken on the goal of building capacity for a city to survive, adapt, and grow despite chronic stresses and acute shocks. But given resilience’s essentially contested nature in scholarly debates, and a lack of clear normative foundations, individuals, organizations, and government officials interpret resilience differently and struggle to enact a vision of resilience that best weighs in on broader social and political debates over participation, justice, and economic policy. In this study, we use interview data on people’s definitions of, and visions for a resilient Miami-Dade to determine what social, ecological, and technological components constitute these visions. While resilience thinking suggests that some social, environmental, and technological objects and processes need to change, in order for others to remain unchanged, the demand for change and/or permanence can foreclose potential futures and reinscribe longstanding political ecological inequalities. We examine the changing components of Miami Dade that are required to build a future resilient identity for Miami Dade, the transformations implied in these visions, and the ethical aporias these visions open onto. We conclude by contributing to debates over the contestedness of resilience by highlighting how actually existing resilience processes might inform theoretical debates.

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