Episode 75 – Book Review Roundtable: Lively Cities: Reconfiguring Urban Ecology

Lively Cities departs from conventions of urban studies to argue that cities are lived achievements forged by a multitude of entities—human and nonhuman—that make up the material politics of city making. Generating fresh conversations between posthumanism, postcolonialism, and political economy, Barua reveals how these actors shape, integrate, subsume, and relate to urban space in fascinating ways.

Episode transcript


Mara Barua

Mara is Senior Researcher and Core Team Member of the Beyond Inhabitation Lab at the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies, Polytechnic of Turin. Her work focuses on housing precarity, temporary and platform urbanism, and struggles for housing commoning (see: http://www.commoninghousing.net/ 2016-2020). She is founding editor of the Radical Housing Journal and author of The Permanence of Temporary Urbanism (Amsterdam University Press, 2021). 

Maan leads a major ERC Horizon 2020 Starting Grant (2018-2024) on Urban Ecologies, involving multiple partners and a research team across two continents. This work has culminated in his recent monograph Lively Cities: Reconfiguring Urban Ecology, published by the University of Minnesota Press (2023). His second book Plantation Worlds, interrogating planetary transformations through critical engagements with colonialism and race, will be published by Duke University Press (August 2024). His work is in dialogue with cognate disciplines, especially anthropology.

Twitter – @maanbarua, @uEcologies

Our Guests:

Ghazala Shahabuddin

Ghazala is an ecologist (PhD, Duke University) with an abiding interest in issues at the intersection of human society and biodiversity, such as land use change impacts, habitat fragmentation, forest ecology and community-based conservation. Since 2010, she has been working on biodiversity patterns and their drivers in multiple-use landscapes of the middle Himalayas in India, including aspects of long-term vegetational change, forest institutions and bird diversity. Ghazala has also published extensively on the policies and politics of wildlife conservation in India. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Ashoka University (Sonepat, Haryana) and a Senior Adjunct Fellow at ATREE, Bengaluru, India.

Lindsay Blair Howe

Lindsay is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Society at the University of Liechtenstein and PI of the Urbanism and Society Research Group. With an interdisciplinary background in architecture, urban design, and geography, her research cuts across disciplinary boundaries in conducting ethnographic investigations of sociological transformations. From places as diverse as Johannesburg, South Africa to Rankweil, Austria she pursues a range of issues, from the production of social and spatial peripheries to the politics of housing and urban development, and even imagines a more sustainable process of crafting architecture with earth. She is Assistant Dean of the School of Architecture, co-founder of urban publics Zurich (upZ), and author of numerous highly-ranked scientific articles and publications.

Twitter – @linsenb

Ravi Sundaram

Ravi is a Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. In 2000 he founded the well-known Sarai programme at the CSDS along with Ravi Vasudevan and the Raqs Media Collective. Since then, Sarai grew to become one of India’s best-known experimental and critical research sites on media, spanning local and global sites. Sundaram is the author of Pirate Modernity: Media Urbanism in Delhi (2010) and edited No Limits: Media Studies from India (Delhi, 2015). He is the co-author of the recently published Techno-Pharmacology, University of Minnesota Press, 2022.
Sundaram has also co-edited the Sarai Reader series, The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life (2002), Shaping Technologies (2003), Crisis Media (2004).
He is currently finishing his next book project, Events and Affections: post-public media circulation.

Thomas Crowley

Thomas is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at Rutgers University. His current research focuses on political ecologies and geologies of caste, as well as processes of urbanization and industrialization in India. He is the author of Fractured Forest, Quartzite City: A History of Delhi and its Ridge (Yoda Press/SAGE Select, 2020).


Nitin Bathla

Nitin is a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich, where he works as part of the transdisciplinary project on agri-urbanisms at the Chair of Sociology. He also coordinates the Doctoral Programme at the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies at the Department. His research practice actively combines academic research with artistic practices of filmmaking, and socially-engaged art. He is the director of award-winning film Not Just Roads, which premiered at several important film festivals across the world.

Twitter – @nitin_bathla

Book review forum, Urban Geography:

Introduction – Lively cities: a review in the minor key, Nitin Bathla

Animating ideologies of caste in the lively city, Thomas Crowley

From lively spatial combinations to lively theorizations, Lindsay Blair Howe

Lively Cities – an intricate understanding of urban life, Johanna Just

Human-animal relations in lively cities: a novel look, Ghazala Shahabuddin

Lively cities: an urban theory for the twenty-first century, Ravi Sundaram

Book launch discussion, ETH Zurich: