The fight for retreat: urban unbuilding in the era of climate change
Liz Koslov, MIT
Much research reveals the devastating and unequal impacts of forced relocation and displacement in contexts ranging from disasters to urban regeneration. However, the effects of climate change are rendering many places increasingly vulnerable – even uninhabitable – as seas rise, storms intensify, and all manner of weather becomes more extreme. This talk examines the growing calls to adapt to these changes through “managed retreat” or realignment, by unbuilding and moving away from the most at-risk areas. It draws on fieldwork in New York City after Hurricane Sandy, when residents along one hard-hit stretch of shore organized in favour of returning their waterfront neighbourhoods to “Mother Nature” and relocating to higher ground. What are the consequences of this form of collective movement away from rising waters? Can community-driven retreat offer a more equitable alternative to other forms of urban adaptation? Or will unbuilding in the face of climate change serve to deepen and entrench social divides?
This event is open to the public. No booking required.
Organized by the Social Life of Climate Change Collective
Supported by the Department of Geography & Environment and the Grantham Institute
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