BOOK LAUNCH: 'Lively Cities. Reconfiguring Urban Ecology' (University of Minnesota Press) with author Maan Barua


Discussant: Gillian Rose (Dept Geography, Oxford University)

Convened by Perig Pitrou (MFO)

To attend this event, please register here.

One of the fundamental dimensions of urbanization is its radical transformation of nature. Today domestic animals make up more than twice the biomass of people on the planet, and cities are replete with nonhuman life. Yet current accounts of the urban remain resolutely anthropocentric. Lively Cities departs from conventions of urban studies to argue that cities are lived achievements forged by a

multitude of entities, drawing attention to a suite of beings—human and nonhuman—that make up the material politics of city-making. From macaques and cattle in Delhi to the invasive parakeet colonies in London, Maan Barua examines the rhythms, paths, and agencies of nonhumans across the city. He reconceptualizes several key themes in urban thought, including infrastructure, the built environment, design, habitation, and everyday practices of dwelling and provides a critical intervention in animal and urban studies. Generating fresh conversations between posthumanism, postcolonialism, and political economy, Barua reveals how human and nonhuman actors shape, integrate, subsume, and relate to urban space in fascinating ways. Through novel combinations of ethnography and ethology, and focusing on interlocutors that are not the usual suspects animating urban theory, Barua’s work considers nonhuman lifeworlds and the differences they make in understanding urbanicity. Lively Cities is an agenda-setting intervention, ultimately proposing a new grammar of urban life.

About the 'Living Cities' Lecture Series:

Considering the ecological challenges of urban planning projects, contemporary societies must invent new ways of coexisting with non-human life forms and improving the living conditions of humans, while integrating them more harmoniously into natural environments. While establishing a dialogue with the medical sciences, natural sciences and engineering sciences, the humanities and social sciences provide fundamental insights into the technical and social dynamics at work in the way cities are built and inhabited.

By inviting researchers engaged in a reflection on the multiple scales of relations between Life and Cities, the "Living Cities" Lecture Series aims to identify the main problems which need to be solved to learn how to better inhabit our planet.