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The Future of Climate Urbanism:The Second Sheffield Urbanism Lecture Series

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We are proud to announce our second Sheffield Urbanism Lecture Series on the Future of Climate Urbanism.

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The Sheffield Urbanism Lecture series is an initiative of the Urban Institute to generate provocative and nonstandard propositions for understanding processes of urbanization and urban life. It is intended as a space to reimagine both the conceptualizations and narratives of urban studies.

Following the success of our first series in 2020, the Future of Climate Urbanism comprises three lectures in Autumn 2021 which will all take place online.

  • Lecture One: The multiple lives of climate urbanism: Wednesday 6th October 3–4.30pm

Professor Vanesa Castán Broto will open the lecture series by exploring the emergence of climate urbanism and its current manifestations across different geographies, with particular attention to the ways in which climate urbanism is reinforcing urban inequalities and producing new ones. This lecture asks what is climate urbanism and why does it matter? Climate urbanism has emerged as a perspective that engages with how climate change is transforming the way we think and imagine cities and settlements. Climate change has generated new forms of intervention in urban areas, to reduce carbon emissions and address climate risks. Normative emphasis on collective responses, however, is limiting critical attention to those climate responses, and how they impact on the urban environment. Climate responses are not neutral. Concerns with maladaptation and climate gentrification point towards new forms of inequality that emerge under the umbrella of the climate emergency. Following previous interventions (Castán Broto and Robin, 2020; Castán Broto, Robin and While, 2020) we propose that climate urbanism can become a critical theory that both exposes the production of further inequalities associated with urban responses to climate change and provides new radical forms of practice for more progressive urban futures under climate change.

  • Lecture Two: Technologies of climate urbanism, Wednesday 20th October, 3-430pm

Professor Simon Marvin will consider how climate urbanism has generated new arguments for the enhanced and accelerated technification of urban society and incorporating technology into urban environments. The talk considers the intertwining of climate turbulence and vital system security examining how this is accelerating. This lecture will explore how climate urbanism has generated new arguments for the accelerated technification of urban society and incorporation of technology into urban environments. The lecture examines how technical systems are being applied in an attempt to render climate induced turbulence governable through early warning systems, nowcasting and predictive analytics being provided through ‘integrated urban weather services’. This enhanced understanding is underpinning the application of pre-emptive and real-time response systems to reconfigure infrastructure critical assets minutes or microseconds after disruption. Novel forms of thermal engineering designed to partition the outdoor atmospheric commons are being applied claiming to provide safe and secure milieu during extreme weather events. The paper examines the tensions, limits and contradictions of this emerging logic of the urbanisation of meteorological government.

  • Lecture Three: Queering climate urbanism, Wednesday 3rd November, 3-430pm

Professor Vanesa Castán Broto will conclude the series by investigating alternative perspectives on climate urbanism that are looking to disrupt existing understandings about how to take action and with what purpose. The lecture will consider what kinds of orientations are deployed within climate urbanism, and the extent to which reparative alternatives are even possible. This lecture starts from a consideration of how climate urbanism can be tackled from a perspective that recognises how bodies and objects are situated in space and time. Following Ahmed (2006) this will require thinking what kinds of orientations are accessible from different locations of action. This perspective raises three angles of analysis relevant for climate urbanism. First, I consider how climate urbanism responds to historical trajectories of sustainable development and climate action. Path-dependency means that certain paths of action are more accessible than others, because of existing orientations determine what actions are available. Second, the lecture considers efforts to disrupt those trajectories, to change existing orientations, and what it takes to do so. Third, Professor Castán Broto proposes to consider the possibility of engaging with reparative readings of the urban which, following Sedwick (2003) move beyond paranoid perspectives on the climate crisis into a productive sphere that accepts the world as a messy, disturbed place but one in which meaningful lives are still possible.

To read more about the Future of Climate Urbanism series:

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The Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield addresses some of the major social, economic and environmental challenges facing our cities today and in the future.

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