Studying brownfields: governmentality, the post-political, or non-essential materialism?
This paper sets out to evaluate several common theoretical frameworks employed in critical studies of brownfield redevelopment. Specifically, it analyzes the relevance of governmentality, the post-political, and non-essentialist materialism in that context. To do so, it explores how these theoretical frameworks map on to Bridgeport, Connecticut’s BGreen 2020, and its approach to the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized land – and brownfields more specifically. It argues that these frameworks come up short when applied to this empirical case because they put forth untenable ontological claims regarding the constitution of the subject and political agency. Going further, it asserts that these frameworks fail to identify a way forward for those seeking emancipatory political interventions in the context of brownfield redevelopment and urban environmental politics. In closing this paper suggests that Jason W. Moore's recent writing on “capitalism as world-ecology” can provide a way forward where these other frameworks fail.
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