Handbook of Cities and the Environment
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Handbook of Cities and the Environment

Edited by Kevin Archer and Kris Bezdecny

With an ever-growing majority of the world's human population living in city spaces, the relationship between cities and nature will be one of the key environmental issues of the 21st Century. This book brings together a diverse set of authors to explore the various aspects of this relationship both theoretically and empirically. Rather than considering cities as wholly separate from nature, a running theme throughout the book is that cities, and city dwellers, should be characterized as intrinsic in the creation of specifically urban-generated ‘socio-natures’.
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Chapter 13: Mending fences: constituting urban subjects through environmental stewardship

Nate Gabriel

Abstract

This chapter examines the ways in which urban subjectivities emerge through environmental stewardship. Employing Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality, it examines the fluidity of power relations as everyday citizens internalize, resist, negotiate with, or transcend expert scientific knowledge about urban environments while engaging in environmental stewardship practices. Drawing from research conducted in Philadelphia, PA, it focuses on participants in the city’s ecological restoration program, the tendency of environmental restoration to reinforce a division between natural lands and urban spaces, and the tendency of restoration participants to contest this division. Environmental stewardship, therefore, is theorized as a site of possibility in which performances in and about parks can disrupt or reinforce dominant discourses of urban environmentalism.

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