Landscaping Discontent: Space, Class, and Social Movements in Immigrant Paris

Quadrant: Global Cultures

In 2007, Paris unveiled the Jardins d’Eole, a new park built in a low-income, predominately West African and Maghrebi district of the city. The park resulted from a residents’ mobilization and has been described as an exemplar of "sustainable urbanism." This project is an ethnographic study highlighting the disjuncture between the environmentalism of the residents’ campaign to demand the park and the notions of sustainable urbanism that informed the planners’ and architects’ design. It suggests that environmental politics ought to be conceived of as separate from—and possibly at odds with—urban sustainability, a spatial logic of power undergirding the redevelopment and gentrification of Paris’ immigrant neighborhoods. It also posits that the disjuncture between environmental activism and urban sustainability in Paris has global implications, thanks to the diffusion of sustainable urbanism around the world. The critique is not targeted at the tenets of urban sustainability, but instead it insists that the question "what is to be sustained for whom" be included in debates surrounding the sustainable rebuilding of cities.

University of Minnesota