Imagining Urban Ecologies Differently: From Violent Geographies to Places of Care — ASN Events

Imagining Urban Ecologies Differently: From Violent Geographies to Places of Care (13151)

Karen E. Till 1
  1. National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland

What would it mean to think about cities marked by past structures of violence and exclusion as wounded but also as environments that may offer their residents care? This is a question I have been exploring in recent writings (Till, 2008, 2013) and in a book in progress about ‘Wounded Cities’. Based upon my ethnographic research in cities such as Berlin, Bogotá, Cape Town, and Roanoke, I have found that residents who have inherited the ongoing legacies of violence often communicate and enact their understandings of place as a meta-subject. This form of knowing is based upon their complex psychic attachments to place, including through bodily and social memories, and affective relationships to material and imagined environments that, taken together, form significant fragile social ecologies across generations. If cities that have been particularly marked by extreme forms of state-violence and their inhabitants are understood as having been wounded, I argue that imaginaries of the city that are not defined primarily by property values may become possible. We may focus our attention on why places, peoples, groups, environments, non-human natures continue to be injured, and how, through memory-work and what I call a place-based ethics of care, historical and current resources, including affective relationships to place, might sustain more just possible futures. In this paper, I will explore the possibilities and limitations of using anthropomorphic and organic spatial metaphors to talk about the embodied and affective relationships people have with place.