Category: Session 7: Vulnerability and Resilience

How Flood Risk and Justice Combine in Costal Cities: A Mix-Method Approach for East Harlem (New York City)

Veronica Olivotto
Milano School of Policy, Management and the Environment
Urban Systems Lab 2

The New School

Pablo Herreros-Cantis
Urban Systems Lab 2
The New School

For decades the Environmental Justice (EJ) literature has studied the connection between race and proximity to toxic facilities in cities. This work is being leveraged and built upon to understand how justice and flood risk combine in coastal areas. One of the main issues however, is how to combine the insights from a spatial and quantitative approach of distributional justice with the more rich and intricate insights from qualitative understandings of procedural justice. In this short paper, we present findings from analyses in East Harlem, a Potential Environmental Justice Community (PEJC) due to its demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Using GIS, we map and compare tax lot area, total population, land uses and values exposed to FEMA’s floodplain of 2007 and the revised 2015 projections as well as differences between lots within and outside the 2015 floodplain. In the same way, we also track differences across eleven socio-economic indicators of vulnerability. We find some differences in industrial land uses exposed to the floodplains, which may be due to rezoning that took place in 2008. Statistically significant change in socio-vulnerability indicators are more acute in Census Block Group falling within the East Harlem floodplain. Questions arise about how historical patterns of urbanization and up-zoning in the floodplain may lead to people being more or less vulnerable. We attempt to explain and enrich the discussion by conducting in depth interviews with community groups and content analysis of relevant urban policy documents, following a procedural justice approach.

Mapping Feminicide

Helena Suárez Val
Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
University of Warwick

Feminicide names the gender-related violent deaths of women, the tip of the iceberg in a continuum of violence that is “terrorising women” in the Americas (Fregoso and Bejarano 2010). Latin America and the Caribbean has been named “the most violent [region] in the world for women” (UNDP and UN Women 2017) and feminist activists have been responding to this ongoing crisis by intensifying activism on the issue. As well as mass protests, performances, hashtag campaigns, community organising, and other actions, feminist activists across Latin America have been denouncing feminicide by creating digital cartographies of the violence, including my own project mapping feminicide in Uruguay ( In this short paper, I share an investigation where I put into dialogue affect and emotion theories, conceptualisations of feminicide, and scholarship that reclaims quantitative and geographic methods for feminist research and activism, to propose that digital maps of feminicide constitute feminist affect amplifiers: interactive digital artefacts through which data about cases of feminicide –modulated through feminist knowledges, emotions, and affects– are recirculated in/to the world. This practice of creating feminist data visualisations can be understood as part of an affective politics oriented to generating change in personal and political responses to feminicide. A politics hoping to end violence against women.

Vulnerable Bodies: Relations of visibility in the speculative smart city

Debra Mackinnon
University of Calgary

sava saheli singh
University of Ottawa

From wearables, IoT sensors, apps, platforms and cameras, we “shed” various forms of data as we navigate our increasingly networked and smart environments. Recent discussions of urban data have focused on post collection practices of translation and circulation – following data threads, journeys and exhaust as they enact urban life. We seek to further complicate these thick data accounts focusing on movement, bodies and embodiment. As our bodies become information, the accuracy and affordances of these data portraits remain critical sites of inquiry. How do surveillance technologies, map, render and perform human and non-human interactions; moreover, exacerbate injustice? In this paper, adding to the rich discussions of future-ing, anticipatory imaginaries and implications on the urbanite body, we offer a critical interrogation of the oligoptic gaze and the relations and politics of visibility. We do this through the narrative of Frames [] – a speculative near future account of mapping a body through the various lenses of a smart city. Focused on what is included (and excluded) from the “frame”, we navigate domains of aesthetics and politics in order to foreground the embodied experiences, decisions and interactions which are mapped by these surveillant spatial locative technologies. We contend these renderings or simulacra of a ‘singular’ knowledge politic serve to stabilize and normalize ways of seeing, knowing and control. Yet, these rationalities are irrational – potentially producing inefficient, inaccurate and unjust portraits.