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Political Ecologies of Urban Real Estate and Finance I: Housing, Insurance, and Infrastructure

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Organizers: Emma Colven, Zac Taylor
Chairs: Emma Colven


This session seeks to explore the ways in which financial and environmental risks intersect in real estate and the built environment, and how such crossroads restructure urban political ecologies and economies. Our call is animated by a pressing need to better understand the relationships between two parallel urban moments. Cities are now widely seen as key climate actors, as active laboratories for articulation of new forms of climate response and resilience, as much as places of unequal exposure and climate in/justice. At the same time, cities are central sites and subjects of financialization, with real estate (and real estate-linked finance) playing a crucial part in shaping unequal patterns of accumulation and power within and between places.

These dual moments converge in striking and contradictory ways. Within the spaces of real estate and finance, we witness intensified investment in existentially vulnerable coastal settings like Jakarta or Miami, the development of new strategies for managing property catastrophe risks within financial institutions, and the marketization of residential catastrophe insurance premiums through new forms of asset-linked financial engineering. At the same time, many cities increasingly seek to secure real estate from climate devaluation, as seen in how the protection of ‘property value at risk’ is increasingly centered as an organizing goal of resilience policies. So too are climate risks curiously left off the map in real estate and built environment management debates. These represent a selection of emerging, if fragmentary efforts to shore up global capital’s precarious investment in risky cities.

Yet significant work remains remains to catalogue, conceptualize, and critique these interactions, and to pose new questions about how we value and rethink the relationships between discourses of risk and resilience. To these ends, this session seeks to critical interventions which situate the relationships between financial and environmental risks in relation to cities, the built environment, and real estate.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Mustafa Monk*, Mississippi State University, Evaluating the unequal impacts of Hurricane Harvey : Critical GIS analysis in systems of governmental risk assessment and mitigation in Houston, Texas 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Troy Brundidge*, Northeastern Illinois University, Using Critical Physical Geography With Epistemontology: An Investigation of the 2018 Securitization of NFIP Flood Exposure 15 12:00 AM
Presenter James Sirigotis*, UC, Santa Cruz, Resilient Optionality 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Travis Young*, Pennsylvania State University, Kate Booth, University of Tasmania, Chloe Lucas, University of Tasmania, Placing insurance: Risk, rurality, and insurance behavior in peri-urban Melbourne 15 12:00 AM
Discussant Sarah Knuth Department of Geography, Durham University 15 12:00 AM

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