Special Issue "Urban Political Ecology: The Uneven Production of Urban Space and Its Discontents"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Autonomous University of Mexico- UNAM
Interests: climate change adaptation and mitigation in cities; urban resilience; socioecological conflicts; urban inequalities; segregation; real-estate speculation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Current trends in urbanization have produced socio-metabolic transformations at such a pace and scale that urban settlements now concentrate 54% of the global population, 80% of the world’s wealth, a greater part of global infrastructure and production means, and most of the consumption and political power. Hence, how the production of urban space takes place will be crucial in the coming decades, particularly as global environmental change intensifies. Profiting urban economies of scale, improving the efficient use of resources, and evolving towards a circular economy are absolutely shared goals, but how those are concretely achieved require processes that face local specificities, including the uneven power relations through which urban settlements are usually produced [1]. Urban political ecology (UPE) is interested in understanding how different schemes for the social mobilization of metabolic processes produce diverse socio-environmental assemblages [1].

In this Special Issue, we are particularly interested in identifying the different schools of thought or theoretical and conceptual tendencies within UPE literature. In that sense, contributions will ideally need to reconstruct some dimension or moment of UPE history, identify at least one of its main schools of thought, or elucidate the existing traditions and its corresponding influential authors. Contributions are expected to identify gaps, challenges, and potentialities of UPE in general and of its different traditions or schools of thought.

We also welcome deliberations on how UPE analyses vary in the Global North, Global South, and regionally in terms of methodologies, focus, and themes of interest. Likewise, UPE study cases are encouraged, both those that offer meta-analyses on key themes, and those that present a specific but meaningful study case. Themes must be developed from a UPE perspective and may include those related to: uneven development of urban space, including real estate speculation and locally unwanted land uses; uneven distribution of vulnerabilities; gender and other types of social inequalities; ecological degradation and its health impacts; climate change impacts and responses; urban and peri-urban transition perspectives for sustainability and resilience and its corresponding governance; local and transnational contestation processes; or the top-down/bottom-up development of alternatives.

References

[1] Heynen, Nik., Kaika, Maria., and Swyngedouw, Erik. 2006. Urban political ecology. Politicizing the production of urban natures. In the Nature of Cities. Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. Routledge. New York, USA, 2006; 1-20.

Dr. Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • urban metabolism
  • urban nexuses
  • urban planning
  • real estate speculation and urban ecology
  • urban uneven development
  • cities and climate change
  • urban resilience
  • locally-unwanted-land-uses (LULU)
  • urban transition
  • governance

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Defiance from Down River: Deflection and Dispute in the Urban-Industrial Metabolism of Pollution in Guadalajara
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6294; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226294 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Research in urban political ecology has been important in recent decades in understanding the complex socionatural processes entailed in urbanization, exploring the local and global linkages of the production and consumption processes of urban metabolism. While these studies have explored diverse networks and [...] Read more.
Research in urban political ecology has been important in recent decades in understanding the complex socionatural processes entailed in urbanization, exploring the local and global linkages of the production and consumption processes of urban metabolism. While these studies have explored diverse networks and artefacts in this metabolism, little attention has been paid to the flows of the pollution of water and air, particularly of the industrial emissions that are also key to the socionatures of urbanization in industrialized regions of the Global South. In this paper, we explore two interconnected nodes in the metabolism of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area in Western Mexico. These are key sites for the flows of resources and emissions, with different levels of social discontent and conflict related particularly to the health impacts of water pollution. Here, government authorities tend to deflect attention from industrial- and city-level sources of pollution, focusing instead on proximate sources and household emissions. Organized social resistance, on the other hand, calls attention to powerful industrial actors and speculative urban development while taking action to imagine new socio-ecological configurations in the region. We focus on the role of the state in maintaining socio-ecological inequities, and the lessons that can be learned about urban metabolism by expanding the frame to include industrial processes in the shaping of urban socionatures. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Real Estate Industry as an Urban Growth Machine: A Review of the Political Economy and Political Ecology of Urban Space Production in Mexico City
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1980; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071980 - 03 Apr 2019
Abstract
Cities concentrate the means of production, wealth, political power, infrastructure, educational institutions, and a relevant share of our cultural heritage. As such, they are seen as places of opportunities. Contemporary urbanization, however, being central to the accumulation of capital, has also escalated environmental [...] Read more.
Cities concentrate the means of production, wealth, political power, infrastructure, educational institutions, and a relevant share of our cultural heritage. As such, they are seen as places of opportunities. Contemporary urbanization, however, being central to the accumulation of capital, has also escalated environmental problems that are usually suffered by the urban poor due to an uneven production of urban space. Mexico City is not an exception. It has mainly expanded through a lively auto-construction process and, more recently, under the incentive of a speculative urban development. The first trend reinforces the informal housing sector, in certain cases, involving significant environmental implications such as the degradation of land of ecological value. The second trend responds to capital accumulation dynamics, promoting urban renewal in central areas or where a greater potential rent-gap exists, underpinning the uneven production of urban space, and usually withholding most of its related socioenvironmental impacts. This paper focusses on this second process. It assesses the so-called “urban growth machine” in action, its socioecological impacts, and related contestation processes. With that in mind and after a general introduction and a brief description of urban development in Mexico, the real estate industry in Mexico City is evaluated in terms of the potential ecological implications of the building stock expansion from 2012 to 2018. A spatial distribution analysis of contestation processes, correlated to such urban expansion, is presented as well. The case study confirms what has been learned in other locations of the Global South, where a contradictory and uneven process of urban development has also been experienced under the stimulus of capital speculation. The paper, however, offers a novel approach by bringing together urban political economy, industrial ecology and urban political ecology analytical tools. Such hybridization, it is argued, enables a more comprehensive understanding of contemporary urbanization and its socioenvironmental impacts, which in turn is central to any effort for urban transformation. Full article
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