Bringing Urban Parks to Life: The More-Than-Human Politics of Urban Ecological Work

Ernwein, Marion (2020). Bringing Urban Parks to Life: The More-Than-Human Politics of Urban Ecological Work. Annals of the American Association of Geographers (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2020.1773230

Abstract

Using gestion différenciée in Geneva, Switzerland, as a case study, this article puts the politics of labor at the center of a political ecological analysis of efforts to “ecologize” the design and maintenance of urban parks. The article first highlights how the neomanagerial scripting of an “ecological” mode of managing urban parks reshapes social configurations of work by increasing the uneven distribution of agency and visibility among park workers. It then argues that ecomanagerialism also redefines the boundaries of the work collective itself, as plants shift from being understood as “undead commodities” to “nonhuman laborers.” To elucidate the social implications of the enrollment of plants’ capacities, the article advances an understanding of urban ecological work as more-than-human. The article discusses the role played by understandings of what urban nature should be, and what it should do, in producing and justifying new divisions, hierarchies, and forms of unevenness within the urban ecological workforce.

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