Circling the square: Urban heat islands and its anthropological effects
(Humboldt University of Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
Looking at current efforts to redesign public spaces affected by climate change in Munich, I would like to propose three keys for an anthropology of re-construction: moving between the lab and the field, favouring languages of recursion over exception, and welcoming re-articulations of its own role.
Paper long abstract:
The slow, but steady increase of temperature in cities, widely discussed as urban heat island effect, and its ambivalent, that is, not-only negative effects on the urban lives of humans, animals, insects and plants, offers an interesting contrast to dystopic imaginaries of disasters as cataclysmic events. Looking at current efforts towards the redesign of urban squares in the city of Munich with the aim of climate mitigation and climate adaptation, I would like to reflect on what an anthropology of re-construction might entail. Three vignettes from encounters with different types of actors (some of them fellow researchers) will ground the discussion. Firstly, looking at the lab/field work of ecologists experimenting with the climatic performances and ecological affordances of different species of trees, native and exotic, reconstruction is figured as a process of laboratorization of the urban environments. Secondly, working with landscape architects and urban designers, climate-related reconstruction reveals itself as yet another recursive operation in a long history of revising previous designs for public space. Finally, conversing with activist collectives engaging in urban bee-keeping and urban farming, it becomes apparent that their reconstruction of urban ecologies of practices relies on mode of exploring the climatic catastrophe as a generative condition for re-articulations of interspecies entanglements. An anthropology of re-construction, I'd like to argue, could be reimagined along similar lines: moving between the lab and the field, favouring languages of recursion over exception, and welcoming re-articulations of its own role.
Anthropology of re-construction: exploring and thinking the remaking of broken worlds [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network]