Just green spaces of urban politics

A pragmatist approach

Authored by: Ryan Holifield

The Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138890329
eBook ISBN: 9781315712468
Adobe ISBN:


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Public parks and green spaces have long been important spaces of urban politics. Not only are they fought for and fought over, but they also often serve as settings for speeches, demonstrations and conflicts typically regarded as fundamental to democracy. Unsurprisingly, then, they have attracted attention in the growing research field of urban political ecology (see, e.g. Brown-low 2006; Byrne and Wolch 2009; Gandy 2012; Heynen et al. 2006). Urban political ecology, although shaped profoundly by its origins in radical political economy and science and technology studies, has become a diverse field with multiple varieties (see Heynen 2014, 2015). Consequently, it now brings a wide range of theoretical tools and concepts to the analysis of urban environmental politics, building on Marxist, Foucauldian, feminist, queer and other critical theories. In combination, this increasingly rich body of research has shown how urban environments are products of uneven power relations and political contestation at multiple scales, as well as how struggles over the urban environment connect with and contribute to broader projects of social and political change. However, while shedding light on the contested production, development and uses of parks and green space, this literature has said less about the ways that green spaces themselves function as spaces of urban democratic politics.

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