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Ruderal City: Urban Worlds in the Rubble of European Racism and Capitalism

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London School of Economics and Political Science

Clement's Inn, Holborn

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WC2A 2AZ

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Title: Ruderal City: Urban Worlds in the Rubble of European Racism and Capitalism

Thursday 12 March 2020, 18.30-20.00

Venue: PAN.G.01 Pankhurst House

Speaker: Associate Professor Bettina Stoetzer, Anthropology Department, MIT.

Chair: Professor Esra Özyürek, Chair for Contemporary Turkish Studies, LSE

Abstract:

The term “ruderal” (from rudus, rubble) is a common botanical term that refers to ecologies that inhabit disturbed landscapes, such as the spaces alongside roads and train tracks, urban wastelands or rubble fields. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with botanists and migrant urban gardeners in Berlin, this talk engages a series of human-plant encounters to develop the concept of the ruderal and expand it for anthropological analysis of urban environments. Tracing human-plant socialities across the realms of science, public culture and everyday life, the talk directs ethnographic attention towards often unnoticed, unruly and cosmopolitan ways of remaking the urban fabric. The notion of ruderal city, I argue, offers analytical possibilities for rethinking the heterogeneity of urban life beyond a conceptual division between nature and culture – and thus for highlighting the unexpected neighbors, both human and nonhuman, that inhabit the ruins of capitalism, racism, nationalism, and ecological destruction in today’s cities.

Speaker's biography:

Bettina Stoetzer is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor at the Anthropology department at MIT. Her research focuses on the intersections of ecology, migration, race, and urban social justice. Her forthcoming book Ruderal City: Ecologies of Migration and Urban Life in Berlin (Duke University Press) examines how human-environment relations become a key register through which urban citizenship and racial inequalities are renegotiated in contemporary Europe. Bettina Stoetzer is also the author of InDifferenzen: Feministische Theorie in der Antirassistischen Kritik (argument, 2004), Shock and Awe. War on Words together with Gonzalez/Eekelen/Tsing (New Pacific Press, 2004), along with articles on ecology, race, affect, and migration. She is currently working on a new project on nationalism, wildlife mobility, and climate change in the US and Europe.

Bettina received her M.A. in Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies from the University of Goettingen and completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2011. Before coming to MIT, she was a Harper Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago.

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London School of Economics and Political Science

Clement's Inn, Holborn

London

WC2A 2AZ

United Kingdom

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