Heterotopia and the urban politics of climate change experimentation

Gareth A. S. Edwards (Lead Author), Harriet Bulkeley

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Seeking to govern the city in relation to climate change is a political project that at once imagines the present in terms of the future and the future in terms of the present. The urban politics of climate change has brought multiple visions of the possibilities (and limits) of urban futures. In this context, we find urban responses taking experimental form – creating sites through which to explore and experience different urban futures. They provide spaces in which utopian visions can be imagined, enacted and contested. Conceptualizing urban climate change experiments as heterotopic sites seems fruitful in at least two regards. Firstly, it captures their provisional and ambivalent relationship with
the broader urban milieu. Secondly, and even more critically, it opens up the dialogues between the future and present which are at the heart of the climate governance project, and highlights the spatial form of these politics. We examine both with reference to two examples of climate experimentation in Berlin and Philadelphia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-369
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number2
Early online date17 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Heterotopia
  • climate politics
  • Philadelphia
  • Berlin
  • climate change experimentation
  • Foucault
  • governing the future

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