Whose Garden is it Anyway? Nature and Justice in Cities: Views from Cape Town

2017 Nov 03, Friday
Seminar Hall, 10th Floor, Pixel A (Azim Premji University)

About the Lecture

In Africa cities are expanding faster than anywhere else in the world. Around two thirds of urban settlement in southern Africa is informal and poverty is common. The post-colonial urban form, and then particular to South Africa the persistent apartheid urban form, renders modern African cities sites of significant socio-economic injustice. Nature in African cities tends to be variably experienced both within socio-economic groups and across them. Nature surfaces as both friend and foe. It provides critical ecosystem services and also poses risk, most significantly to the urban poor. The complex and often contradictory view of nature in contemporary Cape Town emerges as a function of its unjust past. Consideration of the history of this city shows how nature has been lauded, reviled, tamed and re-imagined through time. Global biodiversity mandates, matters of power and ownership, identity, access, and the social engagements around nature emerge in relation to recent research which serves to pose more questions than it answers. Here, operating from the point of departure, and with evidence to this end, that the preservation of urban nature is a relevant pursuit, I ask what we can learn from Cape Town. What emerges as particular to this biodiversity hotspot? What might be relevant to other cities in the global South? What might be globally relevant?  
About the Speaker

Pippin Anderson works at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where she is senior lecturer and director of graduate studies in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science and has a research affiliation with the African Centre for Cities. With a Masters degree in Conservation Biology and a PhD in Plant Ecology, Pippin has always had an interest in peopled-landscapes. In the last few years she has turned her interests to urban ecosystems and this informs her current teaching and research. Pippin lives in a dense suburb close to the city center in Cape Town, yet from her roof she can see Table Mountain National Park. She loves this dichotomy where city and nature must coexist, with their different temporal and spatial scales, and each so variably imagined by the population of the City. She enjoys grappling with the challenges posed by the ecology of human dominated landscapes. Pippin serves on the URBIO (Urban Biodiversity and Design), The Nature of Cities, and the EU2020 Naturvation Advisory Boards. She chairs the Protected Areas Advisory Board for the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, one of the City of Cape Town’s small conservation gems.