2020/11/13-14 – Two *Virtual* Talks on Cities, Finance and Climate Risk


We are excited to announce two public talks on Nov 13-14, 2020 exploring the emerging urban political ecologies of climate and financial risk. Information about the two speakers and their talks can be found below. The talks are open to anyone, but you need to register via the Eventbrite links below to receive the Zoom link to the webinar. We hope to see you there!

Dr. Emma Colven & Dr. Zac Taylor Any questions can be sent to emmacolven@ou.edu and/or zac.taylor@kuleuven.be.

“Puerta de Tierra, Opportunity Zones and Climate Gentrification.” Dr. Sage Ponder, Florida State University | Friday Nov 13, 2020, at 2PM Central 

In September 2017 the US territory of Puerto Rico was struck by a category 5 hurricane while undergoing the process of municipal bankruptcy. The devastation caused by this natural disaster has become caught up with processes of municipal insolvency and recovery, wielding disastrous impacts on everyday patterns and properties of social reproduction at the urban level. Part of the financial and environmental recovery process includes the privatization of major public infrastructures, including crucial elements of the water system and the entire electric grid, as well as the establishment of an island-wide “opportunity zone”, that incentivizes capital gains tax-free real estate investments. This paper uses document analysis and participant observation to first examine the relationship between urban forms of social reproduction, infrastructural repair, and municipal bankruptcy in Puerto Rico, USA. It then works through this interface of finance, environment, and society to consider how processes of economic revitalization and maintenance and repair are producing climate gentrification in the working-class neighborhood of Puerta de Tierra, San Juan. Ultimately it reveals two very different imaginaries of Puerto Rican futurity at work: one dominated by the maintenance of colonial debt relations, while a nascent other works to engender new spatialities of collective self-determination and social healing.


“‘All That Is Solid…’: Climate Change and the Lifetime of Cities.” Dr. Sarah Knuth, Durham University | Saturday Nov 14, 2020, at 8AM Central

As critical urbanists confront climate change, and prospective climate responses, we must ask crucial questions about the ‘lifetime’ of today’s urban fabrics and metropolitan forms. How durable or ephemeral will existing urban geographies prove in the face of societal devaluations and destruction associated with climate change? Will breaks in and with existing urban forms be suffered through climate change impacts, or waged proactively in the name of deep decarbonization? Dystopian climate imaginaries present such material ruptures, mass stranding of real estate assets, and ‘premature death’ as an existential urban crisis. I maintain here that they are, rather, business as usual for urban capitalism, and its own longer-unfolding crisis. Property developers and appraisers have frequently truncated the lifetime of urban built environments, in how they have represented buildings and their long-term value—and non-value—and in how these representations have become material fact. I consider some bodies of critical urban scholarship necessary to exploring such processes and their climate significance, an important task going forward. I argue that this charge demands creative engagements between cultural geography and political economy, including on questions such as sometimes deep-rooted ‘fiscal geographies’ of urban disposability and emerging geographies (and crises) of property insurance.

Register here.​

Speaker Profiles

  • Dr. CS Ponder is an assistant professor of geography at Florida State University and an Urban Studies Foundation fellow with the University of Minnesota, department of Geography, Environment & Society. Her research is concerned with understanding the racialization of urban finance, and the implications for environmental justice and social reproduction.

  • Dr. Sarah Knuth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University. Her research focuses on critical geographies of climate change and energy transition, finance and the green economy.

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