Video abstract – Kelvin Mason and Mark Whitehead talk about 'Transition urbanism and the contested politics of ethical place making'

How to prepare for a ‘carbon constrained’, ‘energy lean’ world? How to simultaneously enhance systems of care for distant places/others and intensify regimes of (re)localisation in a world of peak-oil and climate change? These questions, as Kelvin Mason (Centre for Alternative Technology) and Mark Whitehead (Aberystwyth University) explain in their paper ‘Transition urbanism and the contested politics of ethical place making‘, are occupying Transition movements around the world.

Writing as observant participants of Transition Town Aberystwyth, Kelvin and Mark present a sympathetic critique which sets in motion geographers’ work on relational space to explore what they call the ‘ethical conundrums’ of a politics – or, better, an urbanism – struggling to make decisions about which socio-environmental relations it wishes to preserve, and which it wishes to sever, for a sustainable, socio-environmentally just future.

Recently it was suggested on this website that “one could be forgiven for concluding that radical scholarship’s goal is essentially negative: denouncing ‘the system’ and decrying its harmful and objectionable tendencies”. Geographers and their fellow travellers, so the thesis goes, know what they’re against, but not what they want: their analyses are long on negation and disdain and short on ideas about how life ought to be organised/arranged/governed/etc. Kelvin and Mark’s constructively critical analysis is refreshingly different, though, and you can see them speaking about their paper and its production below.