Towards Multispecies Cities?

Ducks in the city
Time: 11:15 - 12:15, Thursday October 28
Room: PH170, P35 OsloMet

Conversational keynote with Don Mitchell (Uppsala University) and Cecilie Sachs Olsen (OsloMet). Chair: Marikken Wullf-Wathne.

Social and ecological crises related to the Covid-19 pandemic and a changing climate have heightened the awareness of the entangled fates of humans and non-humans, from the individual body to the planetary scale. This awareness demands that we examine and question how humans coexist not only with nature but also with other species.

“The urban” present a particularly interesting area of investigation in this regard, since the City historically by and large has been imagined and conceptualized as the exclusively human domain par excellence. Is it time to question whether it is really reasonable to sustain the misapprehension that urban development is an activity which only affects humans, and that humans should be the sole beneficiaries (and victims) that deserve consideration in the development of urban settlements?

In this conversational keynote Cecilie Sachs Olsen and Don Mitchell will discuss how the entangled fates of humans and non-humans might speak in challenging ways to wider concerns about planning, researching, understanding and struggling for better cities. The discussion centre-stages the need to find ways to responsibly confront all the difficult questions concerning how, in a world marked by profound relational complexity, urban practices that aim to enable the flourishing of some entities and futures inevitably demand the neglect, othering or active eradication of other beings, things and/or potential developments.

To tackle these questions, do we demand an abandonment of the traditional idea that political rights and entitlements only apply to people? And if so, how do we define political subjects in a world where the boundaries between humans and non-humans are hard to discern? What new trajectories towards the future might these questions open up for the highly urbanized and still yet rapidly urban urbanizing humanity?