Video abstract – “Urban Transformations to Keep All the Same: The Power of Ivy Discourses”

Forthcoming in Antipode 54(4) in July 2022, and available Open Access online now, “Urban Transformations to Keep All the Same: The Power of Ivy Discourses” by Linda Westman and Vanesa Castán Broto (Urban Institute, University of Sheffield) explores a concept that has been gathering interest among scholars and policymakers calling for radical change towards sustainability—urban transformations. As they explain:

The discourse represents an entry point to address systemic causes of ecological degradation and social injustice, thereby providing solutions to intractable global challenges. Yet, so far, urban transformations projects have fallen short of delivering significant action in cities. The limited ability of this discourse to enable change is, in our view, linked with a broader dynamic that threatens progressive commitments to knowledge pluralism. There are discourses that, cloaked in emancipatory terminology, prevent the flourishing of radical ideas. The ivy is a metaphor to understand how such discourses operate. Ivy discourses grow from a radical foundation, but they do so while reproducing assumptions and values of mainstream discourses. We are concerned that urban transformations functions as an ivy discourse, which reproduces rather than challenges knowledge systems and relations that sustain hegemony.

You can watch Linda and Vanesa discussing their work below, learn about their research at Sheffield’s Urban Institute here and here, and read their brilliant Open Access book, Urban Sustainability and Justice: Just Sustainabilities and Environmental Planning (Zed Books, 2019) online.