SITUATED ECOLOGIES gathers art, design and research collaborations to contest and democratise ecologies.

The crisis of urban and social theory: “Rupturing the Anthro-Obscene” event as intervention into UPE

Rupturing the Anthro-Obscene! KTH event at theatre in Stockholm, 17-19 Sept, 2015.

Rupturing the Anthro-Obscene! KTH event at theatre in Stockholm, 17-19 Sept, 2015.

The Rupturing the Anthro-Obscene! Conference is an intervention into critical studies, and urban political ecology in particular.

The conference celebrates the 20 years since the publication of Erik Swyngedouw’s article on “Cyborg Urbanization”, and 10 years after the edited volume “In the Nature of Cities” by Nik Heynen, Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw. Since then the field has grown and become crucial in critiquing mainstream and managerial ‘solutions’ to our socioenvironmental conundrum. But, it also finds itself in crisis, alongside other urban (and social) theory.

As Ernstson & Swyngedouw writes in their draft framing paper to the event’s organisers:

While we have certainly improved our ability to describe and critically analyze just how unequal and unsustainable the world has become, we have less to offer in terms of what to do, in terms of thinking with radical political activists about new political imaginaries. Needless to say, it is exactly these imaginaries that are urgently needed across different conditions in the world, from the Global North to the Global South, from the East to the West.

The conference and book project revolves around this task: What new possibilities for emancipatory transformations are unleashed by a combined and uneven planetary urbanisation? By inviting political philosophers, urban study scholars and political ecologists, Henrik Ernstson and Erik Swyngedouw aim to push speakers and contributors towards articulations of ‘politically performative theory’, to search for real alternatives of socio-ecological emancipatory change based on their varied experiences from across the world.

Read the longer framing at the website

For a longer framing of the event/book project see the FRAMING/TASK on the website, which has been sent out to speakers. For the list of speakers including Edgar Pieterse, Jodi Dean, Maria Kaika, Andy Merrifield and others, go here. Also visit the website to RSVP for open academic seminars, evening lecture, and a public activist forum. Or sign up as Volunteer. Twitter handle is #AnthroObscene (and possibly, @rhizomia, @SituatedEcol).


“Democracy, in the sense of the power of the people, the power of those who have no special entitlement to exercise power, is the very basis of what makes politics thinkable.” Jacques Rancière (2011, p. 79)


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