Political ecology beyond the city: Harnessing the power of exurban political ecology

Authors: Laura Taylor*, York University, Patrick T. Hurley, Ursinus College
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: exurbia; periurban; rural; urban-rural fringe; political ecology; landscape studies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Congressional B, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Scholars of social-ecological change continue to seek better understandings of changing material landscapes in regions surrounding cities in the Global South and North. Attention to these areas highlights meaningful ways in which various biogeophysical entities are transformed through diverse forms of human-environment interactions. Scholars working from exurban political ecology (EPE) research myriad political entanglements in places described variously as periurban, urban-rural fringe, and/or exurbia. We explore critical theoretical and novel methodological approaches deployed by EPE to make sense of socioecological change literally and conceptually beyond city limits, with the assumption that not all change can be understood through the lens of urbanization. While urban theory suggests the world is in an inexorable state of transition to urban conditions, we suggest these transitions are about more than just (uneven) urban metabolisms. Indeed, EPE suggests that exurbia is produced, maintained, and imagined as places that reject, or seek to tame, flows of capital, energies, and ideas associated with urbanization. Dynamics associated with ideologies of nature and environmental imaginaries, processes of reterritorialization, the rise of competing and compatible rural capitalisms, and the work of species and landscapes in enabling or resisting diverse kinds of rural transitions produce particular exurban places. Our work illustrates the importance of recognizing the agency of a more expansive set of ideas and politics associated with human and nonhuman actors. These actors may or may not be more or less closely affiliated with natural resource cultures, economies, and ecologies of rural places experiencing seemingly urban pressures.

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