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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Harriet Bulkeley

Bulkeley, Harriet, Luque-Ayala, Andrés & Silver, Jonathan (2014). Housing and the (re)configuration of energy provision in Cape Town and São Paulo: Making space for a progressive urban climate politics? Political Geography 40: 25-34.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper takes as its starting point the argument that infrastructure networks cannot merely be thought of as the backdrop against which climate politics is played out in the city, but are instead fundamental to the ways in which this is conducted. Bringing infrastructure networks into view as a central tenet to the governing of climate change is not simply a matter of recognizing such spheres as critical sites for urban climate policy, but rather requires a conceptual approach that moves beyond a concern with the capacities of individual actors and institutions, and engages with the ways in which power operates and is constituted through the socio-materiality of the city. Drawing on theories of governmentality we develop such an approach and use it to examine the ways in which housing is providing a means through which experimentation with climate governance is taking place in Cape Town and São Paulo. Through this analysis we find that climate change is being mobilized both as a means to create new flows of carbon finance and as a means through which to advance calls for social inclusion and ‘dignified’ housing. Rather than being characterized by one dominant model, we suggest that the governing of climate change in cities in the global South is multiple, combining market and social logics in eclectic ways, where one is not predominant and both are in constant negotiation, dialogue and contestation.