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Tactical greening and the more-than-human politics of urban environmental risk, resilience, and scarcity

Authors: Samuel Kay*, Ohio State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Urban Geography, China
Keywords: urban political ecology, environmental justice, more-than-human, risk, resilience,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines green aesthetic rationality in Beijing, China, and its significance for how cities worldwide are increasingly formulating governance around the frameworks of "risk" and "resilience." In Beijing, as informal settlements are demolished, what replaces them is often greenspace or new development. Both newly built apartments and new swaths of greenspace consist of neat, ordered, manageable rows. This contrasts with the ad-hoc, auto-constructed, improvised urban forms of migrant settlements. As trees are planted in Beijing by the tens of million while migrants are expelled by the hundreds of thousands, their shared conditions of rootedness or rootlessness, native or non-native, spontaneous or planned growth, are barely if at all metaphorical. Their uncanny applicability to both tree and human demands scrutiny, and they have much to teach us about the trajectory of cities in the Global South today, as anxieties mount about a host of environmental concerns and their anthropogenic origins. This paper will examine how the Beijing municipal government frames its management of both informal settlements and greenspaces around risk (especially the risk of fire,) and how the concepts of risk, resilience, and scarcity are driving policy implementation.

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