Nature - City 

Originating in a Swiss National Research funded workshop which took place in 2014 in Lugano, Gabriel Gee and Alison Vogelaar have been working with a number of colleagues in different disciplines to reflect on 'the changing representations of Nature in Cities at the turn of the 1960s - 70s and their legacies'. A publication with Routledge is being finalized for the winter of 2017-18. 

1 blurb

The turn of the 1960s-70s, characterized by the rapid acceleration of time-space compression associated with 20th century global processes, has prompted a radical transformation in the perception of urban and natural environments. The urban revolution and related prospect of the total urbanisation of the planet, in concert with rapid population growth and resource exploitation, instigated a surge in environmental awareness and activism. One implication of this moment is a growing recognition of the integration and interconnection of natural and urban entities. The present collection is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the changing modes of representation of nature in the city at the turn of the 1960s/70s. Bringing together a number of different disciplinary approaches, including architectural studies and aesthetics, heritage studies and economics, environmental science and communication, the collection reflects upon the changing perception of socio-natures in the context of increasing urban expansion and global interconnectedness as they are/were manifest in specific representations. Using cases studies from around the globe, the collection offers a historical and theoretical understanding of a paradigmatic shift whose material and symbolic legacies are still accompanying us in the early 21st century.

2 Statement of aim

The proposed publication furthers historical enquiry into the changing representations of nature at the turn of the 1960s-1970s. In dialogue with global economic, social and political transformations, this time period is characterised by a paradigmatic shift in human societies’ perception of nature. This collection of essays reflects upon this shift in the context of both the ‘urban revolution’ (Lefebvre 1970) and processes of industrial and cultural transformation that have been posited as seminal traits of global landscapes in the second half of the 20th century (Bell 1976; Harvey 1982). The collection aims to identify a common historical transformation in the modes of imagining nature that has participated in a reconfiguration of urban-nature interfaces in the aftermath of the Second World War. Focusing upon the changing representations of nature in the specific context of the city, the publication furthers an interdisciplinary approach bringing together a diverse set of representational practices and artefacts as they have manifested in various globalised urban spaces. From this array of diverse representational modes, the volume articulates significant commonalities that characterise the paradigmatic shift in imagining nature during this historical period. The collection is divided into three sections that embody common representational shifts. The first section, ‘Forgotten Spaces’ explores the underlying issues of memory and loss that constitute an important feature of imaging nature in this period. Chapters in this section consider forms of erasure produced by global transformations in urban spaces, and the memories that linger in the aftermath of landscape and habitat transformation.  The second section, ‘Artificial Spaces’, considers the post-modern notions of artifice and simulacra as they have come to colour conversations about and representations of ‘the natural’.  Chapters in this section reflect upon the potency of the idea of artifice in the representation of nature and cities – and accordingly of the pendant idea of the authentic in nature. The final section, ‘Interstitial Spaces’, examines notions of wild(er)ness, liminality and hybridity as they have come to constitute important characteristics of urban-natural interfaces, representations and realities. Chapters in this section explore the entanglement of city and nature, exploring the emergence of alternative forms of representation of nature and the urban during the period that do not posit a boundary between the two.

3 Table of contents:

G.Gee & A. Vogelaar, “Global cities, global natures”; PART 1 Forgotten Spaces; G. Gee, “Beyond Narcissus : The metamorphosis of port cities in the 20th century”, L. Gibbs, “Looking beyond the image of ‘the wasteland’: Newark, New Jersey”; W. Tantinipankul, “Bangkok against its nature”; M.Stefano, “Growing up in a Steel Mill: a Conversation with Historian and Nature-lover Elmer J. Hall”; PART 2 Artificial Spaces; P. Perulli, “Passages: from artificial animal to planetary man”; Ayala Levin, “Naturally representative: the environmental planning of the new African capitals Abuja and Dodoma”; G. Sergio, “L. Ghirri, the theatre of landscape”; T. Narhinen & G. Gee, “Nature, plastic, artifice: in conversation with Tuula Närhinen”; PART 3 Interstitial Spaces;  Eliana Souso Santos, “Reyner Banham’s Desert Landscapes”; J. Zhang, “Nature in interstice: reflections on 1970s China and obscure poetry”; M.J. Matos, “The green corridor, a vision for Lisbon”, C. McFeely & G. Gee, “Weather, science & agency: in conversation with Conor McFeely”; B. Hale & A. Vogelaar, “The Postcolonial Garden City? Changing Representations of Nature in Christchurch, New Zealand”