Urban Resilience for Whom, What, Where, When and Why?

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In academic and policy discourse, the concept of urban resilience is proliferating. Social theorists, especially human geographers, have rightfully criticized that the underlying politics of resilience have been ignored and stress the importance of asking “resilience of what, to what, and for whom?” This paper calls for careful consideration of not just resilience for whom and what, but also where, when, and why. A three-phase process is introduced to enable these “five Ws” to be negotiated collectively and to engender critical reflection on the politics of urban resilience as plans, initiatives, and projects are conceived, discussed, and implemented. Deployed through the hypothetical case of green infrastructure in Los Angeles, the paper concludes by illustrating how resilience planning trade-offs and decisions affect outcomes over space and time, often with significant implications for equity.

Urban resilience
urban sustainability
social-ecological systems
green infrastructure
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Urban Geography
Date Published: 
July 12, 2016
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Full Citation: 
Meerow, Sara, and Joshua P. Newell. (2016). "Urban resilience for whom, what, when, where, and why?" Urban Geography 40(3): 309-329.
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