This course introduces Urban Political Ecology (UPE) as an analytical tool to explore how cities are governed, contested and shaped through access and control over resources and infrastructures. By looking at the intersections between globalization
and urbanization processes, UPE provides means to evaluate social power relations underlying injustices and inequalities in cities.
UPE is concerned with the implications of neoliberalism and market-oriented principles on access and the sustainability of resource provision, as well as social struggles that take root at sites of policy change. The course pays particularly attention
at how different social actors, contemporary debates and material artifacts (e.g., large-scale infrastructures, small devices) come to codify uneven geographies, and how environmental injustices are shaped by factors such as caste, race, class,
gender and ethnicity.
The aim of the course is to develop a critical perspective to analyze the complex socio-ecological interactions that constitute cities. It will do so by examining a series of case studies that involve the uneven and unjust distribution of water,
sanitation, waste disposal and electricity supply services.
The course is structured in the following five modules:
Key theoretical perspectives and arguments in the field of Urban Political Ecology (UPE) and Environmental Justice (EJ).
Commodification of basic services and its consequences.
Historical models of urban infrastructure provision from colonial times to the present.
Access to basic services through prepaid technologies.
Contestations around access to water and electricity in cities
The following research questions are addressed:
Who are the main actors involve in the control and distribution of resources (e.g., water, sanitation, waste disposal and electricity), and infrastructures in a city?
What kinds of strategies and practices (e.g., laws, discourses, technologies) do they deploy to transform resources into commodities?
Who are the winners and losers of this socio-ecological transformation?