What is to be Sustained? A Day of Panels at AAG 2016

“What is to be Sustained? Toward Critical Sustainability Studies” A day of panels at the American Association of Geographers Meeting

San Francisco, CA; Tuesday, March 29 2016

In recent years, the discourse of “sustainability” has moved from the margins to the mainstream. Yet for all its ubiquity – and perhaps, in part, because of it – the underlying concept of sustainability is used in contradictory and often competing ways. As with other utopian projects, this futuristic ideal can inspire vital experiments and new collectivities, and also lead to projects that are uncritical and exclusionary. Three members of the Critical Sustainabiliities team—Rachel Brahinsky, Lindsey Dillon, and Miriam Greenberg— organized a rousing day of panels at the AAG that sought to open a broader field of critical sustainability studies, and to address both the promise and perils of contemporary sustainability in research, politics, pedagogy, and practice.  

Here is the call for papers for the session, and here the article "Geographies of Sustainability in the San Francisco Bay Area" that Lindsey and Miriam wrote for the AAG Newsletter about the session. Below is an overview of the day. Links to projects and papers discussed and profiles of the speakers coming soon.

Panel 1: The Scalar Politics of “Sustainability” 

Julie Sze, Scales of Urban Sustainability and Eco-Desire in China

Loretta leng Tak Lou, Green living and the politics of hope in Hong Kong

Peter Wilshusen, Enacting Corporate Sustainability: Practices of Assemblage and the Post-Political Condition

Allan Cochrane, Bob Colenutt, Martin Field, From Sustainability to Viability: A Short History of Planning in a Time of Austerity

Panel 2 Sustainability, Resilience, and the Politics of Water 

Steven Lang, Promise or Peril: Incorporating resiliency into sustainability planning for the post Hurricane Sandy New York City waterfront

Rebecca Elliott, “What’s Old is New Again”: The Repurposing of the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program for Sustainability

Kirsten Rudestam, Culture, Nature, and Power: Exploring the Political Dimensions of Sustainable Groundwater Management in the Pajaro Valley, California

Erin Goodling, Grassroots Resistance in the Sustainable City: A People’s History of the Portland Harbor

Panel 3: Sustainability in Grassroots Planning and Pedagogy 

Adonia E Lugo and Donald Strauss, Critical Sustainability as Pedagogy and Practice: The Case of USMA in Los Angeles

Cheryl Holzmeyer, Critical Sustainabilities and Critiquing “STEM Crisis” Narratives: Bay Area Science Museums and Regional Political Ecologies

Mia Renauld, Just Transition: Transcending Traditional Sustainability in San Francisco’s East Bay

Gonzalo Salazar, The Contradiction of Sustainability and Its Effect on Localizing Praxis in Urban Systems: The Case of Intermediate Cities of La Araucania Region of Chile

Panel 4: Comparative Urban Sustainabilities

Nathan McClintock, Christiana Miewald, Eugene McCann, Urban Agriculture, Policy-making, and Contested Sustainabilities in Portland and Vancouver: Preliminary Results of a Relational Comparative Study

Byron Miller, Samuel Moessner, Sustainability Fix versus Unsustainability Fix? Toward a Spatial-Relational Conceptualization of the Contradictions of Urban Growth, Governance, and Practice

Chen Liu, Kristina Diprose, Catherine Harris, Gil Valentine, Robert Vanderbeck, Jane Plastow, Katie McQuaid, Responsibility to Whom? A Comparative Perspective on Generations, Consumption, and Sustainability

Jacklyn Kohon,  And Then It Goes Political”: The Contested Political Economy of Planning for Social Sustainability in Urban Neighborhoods