NEW WRITING/BOOKS

I currently have 4 new book projects en route. I’m pretty excited about each and all will be released sometime in the next year or so. More details on each as they get closer to being published, but in advance here’s what I’m working on:

WHAT A CITY IS FOR: remaking the politics of displacement

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/what-city

This book will be published by MIT PRESS in August 2016. It starts in Portland, interrogating and charting the ongoing aggressive dispersal of Portland’s Black community and trying to make sense of it in the context of perhaps North America’s most liberal, and certainly whitest, city. My thinking swiftly turns into a grappling with sovereignty – trying to reconcile Agamben/Deleuzian notions of post- or alt-sovereignty with arguments in favour of Indigenous sovereignty in the context of racialized histories of dispossession. The title of  the book is What a City is For - and I end up arguing (more or less) that those two claims are not exclusive and that Indigenous sovereignties can be taken seriously (and maybe only seriously) in urban contexts of settler post-sovereign relationships and restitutions.

 

GLOBAL WARMING AND THE SWEETNESS OF LIFE

This book is the result of a road trip I took with Am Johal and Joe Sacco to the tarsands in May 2015, and then again in August 2016. We drove up to Ft. Mac, then to Lubicon Territory – sleeping on floors, talking to everyone we could, taking lots of photos, drinking in many fine establishments, and trying to think clearly about the world’s biggest industrial development project. The book is part travel writing, part political theory and part ecological philosophy, and moves from climate change politics to a reconsideration of change vs. traditions and the challenge of altermodernities. The book is full of Joe’s cartoons and drawings, photos, maps and other ephemera we collected en route and will be released in mid-late 2016.

 

THIS PATCH OF GRASS: Urban Parks and the Politics of Nature

I’m pretty stoked about this project. It is a book for UBC Press that Selena, Sadie, Daisy and I (my partner and two of our kids) are putting together. We’re taking a close look at the park beside our house (Bocce Ball Park in East Van, Coast Salish Territories) as a way to think about competing renditions of nature in the city, the politics of the natural world and in particular how ecological discourses around urban parks are mobilized and deployed by various constituencies, including the role parks play in accelerating gentrifications and the ways parks are positioned in popular, official and scholarly urban planning conversations.

Selena is writing a historical and archival examination of the park’s construction + use, and how the park space fits into continuing Indigenous reciprocal relationships with land in the context of settler dominations. Sadie is interviewing a whole variety of park users and documenting their various ideas and ideals for the space. Daisy is photo-documenting the park, taking one picture a day from the same place as well as taking many other photos of the various uses and users of BBP. I am writing about the various deployments of nature and how urban parks are used in the service of particular renditions of the city. Each of our contributions will be working with and through each others’ work.

 

STREETS OF GOLD: Urban expressway building and global city formation in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

This is a book that I am writing with Anthony Perl and Jeff Kenworthy for McGill-Queen’s Press that presents an analysis of how Canadian urban-regions have been shaped by the interplay of globalized imperatives, global city aspirations and local development initiatives. It is our contention that most long-standing efforts to identify and explain a ‘Canadian’ typology of urban and regional formation have underestimated the effects of historically-situated transnational circuits of capital and the particular way that capital lands in impinges upon local communities.  It is clear that Canada is a tremendously diverse and geographically dispersed nation and major Canadian cities are not only separated by thousands of kilometres but by very different emergent historical timelines and local identities. Excavating and contextualizing these dynamics of global city aspiration and their connection with local communities can shed new light on how Canadian cities have been constructed, in both similar and divergent patterns and what those results represent.

 

Matt Hern