cities of sand: new spheres of thought

podcast series

This podcast series will examine the intersections between sand and city.

Sand and gravels constitute the largest volume of solid material extracted on the planet (UNEP, 2014) – much of it destined to become the built form of expanding cities.

 

As the fabric of roads, buildings, fracking technologies, computer chips, glass and land itself, sand has been positioned as both the ‘unrecognised foundational material of our economies,’ and ‘one of the major sustainability challenges of the 21st century’ (UNEP, 2019: 2,9).

 

Its extraction, transportation and consumption is reshaping the socio-natural geography of the earth in unprecedented ways, befitting of the widely circulating Anthropocene thesis – or the geological epoch of the Anthropos.

 

Despite the growing recognition that sand is at ‘core of our daily lives’ (Beiser, 2018:2), limited academic work has engaged with this material. This is a significant omission in both the academy and urban studies more specifically. Indeed, estimates indicate we are consuming almost twice as much sand and gravel as a decade ago – a growing demand which is largely attributed to the expansion of cities (UNEP, 2014, 2019).

 

This series will offer a critical space to think through questions of sand and city and invites conversations that consider the methodological, empirical, theoretical and policy implications of dialoguing between sand and city.

For instance: 

 

  • How does thinking with sand reshape our ideas of the city?

  • How does thinking with the city reshape our ideas of sand?

  • How, where and with what consequences is sand extracted?

  • What kinds of socio-natural politics surround sand and its urbanisation?

  • What kinds of urban labours are related to sand?

  • How does sand feature in urban life more broadly?

  • How do we methodologically engage with sand and its relationality to the city?

  • What are the processes of sand consumption in the city?

  • How is sand governed in and beyond the city?

  • How is sand imagined by those extracting and consuming?

 

The series invites contributions from diverse geographical and disciplinary perspectives, including, but certainly not limited to, urban studies, postcolonial urbanism, urban political ecology (UPE), geopolitics, the environmental humanities, sustainability studies and environmental economics.

If you'd like to participate

in the podcast series -

please contact

k.e.dawson@lse.ac.uk

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