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Patrick Bond presents on South Durban to Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles, 10 April

South Durban and the Uneven Development of Urban Political Ecology
is part of the Paper Session: Urban Political Ecology Redux II
Scheduled on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:40 PM.

Author's: Patrick Bond - University of KwaZulu-Natal

Abstract: The $30 billion investment proposal for South Durban's port, logistics and petro-chemical expansion (over the period 2013-50) offers an opportunity to further fuse intellectual traditions of political economy and political ecology, driven in this case by community and environmentalist praxis. The proposal stems from urban restructuring plans for Africa's largest port and oil refining site that were overseen by Dr Michael Sutcliffe (a former Marxist who was recipient of two prestigious AAG professional awards in 2008). Durban's uneven socionatural power relations were contested from below dozens of times during Sutcliffe's 2002-11 reign as City Manager. It is useful to review the character of these disputes for the purpose of projecting present and future social struggles - and accumulation processes - across South Durban's space, racial segregation, gender relations, generational politics, ecological struggles and class alliances, in an area with more than 300 000 residents. For example, climate justice advocacy will become increasingly important because of CO2 emissions (in shipping and refining), in the wake of Durban's December 2011 hosting of the UN Climate Summit. In addition to steadily higher refinery activity, there are three stages of the South Durban Port Expansion envisaged, as planners anticipate an increase of freight activity from 2 to 20 million containers per year by 2050. These flashpoints provide opportunities to consider the way not only the most proximate neighbourhoods (Wentworth, Clairwood and Merebank) are resisting, but to address broader considerations about an alternative, post-carbon, commons-oriented South Durban.

Keywords: Durban, political ecology, political economy, oil, shipping, logistics, pollution, climate, environmental justice, urban social movements

2464 Urban Political Ecology Redux II
is scheduled on Wednesday, 10 April 2013, from 12:40 PM - 2:20 PM in Pico, The LA Hotel, Level 2

Sponsorship's: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group

Organizer's: Jennifer Rice - The University of Georgia Nik Heynen - University of Georgia

Chair's: Nik Heynen - University of Georgia


12:40 PM Author's: Sarah Dooling - the university of texas

1:00 PM Author's: Jennifer L. Rice - The University of Georgia
Abstract Title: Climate Policy and the 'Science Effect': Consensus, Calculation, and Security in Seattle, Washington

1:20 PM Author's: Michael Mendez - UC
Abstract Title: From Global to Local: The Civic Epistemologies of Urban Climate Change

1:40 PM Author's: Patrick Bond - University of KwaZulu-Natal
Abstract Title: South Durban and the Uneven Development of Urban Political Ecology

Session Description: It has been over fifteen years since Swyngedouw (1996) published his paper The City as a Hybrid: On Nature, Society and Cyborg Urbanization in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, which arguably coined Urban Political Ecology as it has become understood today. In the paper, Swyngedouw recognized the importance of past urbanist traditions, while at the same time foreshadowing theoretical synergies between political economy, political ecology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), by blending representational, discursive, ideological, material and bio-chemical constellations of uneven power relations through the notion urban metabolism. At a time when those most central to the formation of political ecology writ large have argued that Urban Political Ecology is one of the most important intellectual terrains for understating future nature/society relations (Blaike2008), it seems necessary to take stock of how we understand the interrelated and interconnected uneven socionatural power relations that continue to celebrate, contest and transform city's nature and nature's city. Through these sessions, we seek to include papers that can reflect on the first generation of UPE research, and/or push us toward the next. The continued evolution of theoretical, philosophical and methodological parameters of UPE requires consideration and continued re-articulation to keep up with the bewildering pace of urbanization. Likewise, there have been important strides made toward better incorporating feminist, racialized and queer positionalities within UPE, as well as other interlocking power relations, but more work is necessary to continue building upon, and expanding from, the Marxist origins of the field in order for the political relevance of UPE to continue growing. Finally, new questions about expertise, governance, democracy and egalitarian politics and/or post-politics also require more attention within the ever churning metabolization of the city, especially as we tend toward planetary urbanism. We welcome a variety of papers and approaches that tackle some of these questions.

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