Nik Heynen
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Nikki Luke
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The case for reparations, urban political ecology, and the Black right to urban life
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Many scholars working within urban political ecology have yet to substantively reckon with the ways racial capitalism has formed and continues to shape urban environments. At the same time, the emancipatory possibilities of reparational politics are only beginning to be incorporated into discussions of the future city. Given emergent opportunities for reparations to reframe fundamental questions about urban nature, we mobilise insights from the Black Radical Tradition to consider how reparations can be mobilised to mitigate the uneven effects of climate change in Atlanta and New Orleans, two of the U.S. South’s most historically significant cities. We discuss how an abolitionist framing of Atlanta’s land bank opens up new questions about property-based reparative politics, climate change, and ongoing struggles for self-determination. We relate this case to the emancipatory potential of energy reparations as connected to decarbonisation of the electrical grid in New Orleans where the introduction of solar energy responds to climate change and could combat petro-racial capitalism. These contemporary policy initiatives force us to grapple with the obscene power inherent to white supremist urbanism as well as how colourblind urban theory misses opportunities to produce more just cities. Making the case for reparations and urban political ecology we ask how land and energy policy is being mobilised to reinvest in the Black right to urban life.

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Turning up the heat

Urban political ecology for a climate emergency


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