Symposium: ‘The politics of climate change and planetary urbanization.’

Location: Mandeville Building, Room T 3.16, Woudestein Campus

DRIFT, the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge and Transition Academy warmly invite you to attend this symposium Friday the 7th of October at Erasmus University Rotterdam. The programme includes keynotes by prof. James Meadowcroft and prof. Erik Swyngedouw, an introduction by prof. Willem Schinkel and critical response by prof. Derk Loorbach.

‘Climate change’ signals an issue often imagined as so great that it allows for no political strategies to take root. It is perceived to play out at the scale of the globe, and so the scale of everyday political action is perceived as hopelessly emptied out. Policies are seemingly unable to address and accommodate the deep fundamental changes that are necessary. Climate conventions are often a reminder of the post-political character of climate change. And yet global warming (as opposed to ‘climate change’) is real on a variety of scales, including the urban, and can be tied to democratic struggles at those scales.

How can we envisage ways of connecting global warming to those everyday struggles without resorting to escapism or technocratic depoliticisation? And how can the urban, especially in an era of planetary urbanisation, be imagined as spaces for politicising global warming? These are some of the questions that concern the eminent speakers at this symposium, organized on the 7th of October.



09.30 – 10.00          Welcome with coffee
10.00 – 10.15          Introduction by prof. Willem Schinkel
10.15 – 10.45          Keynote by prof. James Meadowcroft
10.45 – 11.15          Keynote by prof. Erik Swyngedouw
11.15 – 11.30          Reaction + intro to the discussion by prof. Derk Loorbach
11.30 – 12.00          Discussion with audience and speakers

PhD Defense

13.30 – 15.00          PhD defense of Shivant Jhagroe
15.00 – 17.00          Reception


The symposium and PhD defense take place on the 7th of October at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Participation for the symposium and/or the PhD defense is free of charge, but we kindly ask you to register by following this link.




James Meadowcroft

Disjunctures of scale have bedeviled climate action from the outset. The problem is perceived to be global but community-action is strongest locally. This issue has been emerging over more than a century but we need action now. The call is for a fundamental transformation, but even incremental change is hard. So how can societies maneuver politically to address this issue?

– James Meadowcroft is a Professor in both the School of Public Policy and Administration and in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University, CA. He has a BA in Political Science from McGill University, and a Doctorate from the University of Oxford. His research is focused on the ways in which governments are adjusting their practices and policies in order to cope with the emergence of problems of the environment and sustainable development.



Erik Swyngedouw

We start from the premise that the notion on the Anthropocene is closely associated with the process of planetary urbanization as the latter is one of the key driving forces of the geo-physical transformation of the earth system. In the presentation, we aim at politicizing the de-politicizing notion of the Anthropocene. We stage first the Anthropo-obScene in an explicit effort to both attest to and undermine the performativity of the utterly depoliticized story of ‘the Anthropocene’. In a second part, we engage with the ‘the event of the Anthropocene’  — as Bonneuil and Fressoz call it – as a non-event – and re-cast the depoliticized story of the Anthropo-obScene to explore the contours of new possibilities for politicizing the socio-environmental conundrum we are in.

–  Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Manchester, UK. His research focuses on political ecology and political economy, with a particular interest in theorizing the society-nature articulation from a broadly historical-geographical materialist analysis. In addition, he has worked on urban socio-ecological dynamics, urban governance, politics of scale, and the geographical dynamics of advanced capitalist society. Recent work focuses on the democratic politics and the strategies and tactics of new political movements, and the political ecology of desalination.