Freitag (22. September 2023), 13:30–14:15
HZ 6
Jan Simon Hutta (Universität Bayreuth)

sub\urban is an academic journal that creates a place predominantly for a German-speaking interdisciplinary debate in critical urban research. The journal aims to support the exchange among various disciplinary approaches to urban research and to stimulate reflections on the possible role of critical research within this field. It fosters discussions with urban social movements as well as reflections on the conditions of knowledge productions in urban contexts, research and teaching. While the journal is published in German, it is explicitly open to international debates and the translation of texts.

Racist dogs and classist rats? The more-than-human politics of urban inequalities

In cities across the world, animals reflect, reproduce and transform urban inequalities – yet their role in mediating social hierarchies remains undertheorized. Urban scholars have begun to highlight the importance of infrastructures and technologies in configuring access to essential goods and services. While this research provides key insights into how non-human entities mediate unequal relations, it has largely overlooked how certain animals – “political animals” – also co-produce inequalities. This talk focuses on two critical urban domains, security and public health, that are often characterized by stark inequalities, and takes the role of key animals within these domains – dogs and rats, respectively – as a new analytical entry-point. Security dogs are socialized to identify threatening individuals on the basis of classed and raced markers. Rats thrive in upscale neighborhoods with historical architecture and abundant green space – yet the public health risks and the stigma associated with these rodents may disproportionately affect low-income residents. Drawing on research on security dogs in Kingston, Jamaica and rats in Amsterdam, this talk discusses the role of animals in the formation of sociospatial boundaries, and the distribution of resources and risks across urban spaces and populations. Focusing on the interactions these two types of “political animals” have with both humans and infrastructure, the talk explores how animals’ everyday encounters with their cultural and material environments combine to result in (in)equitable social outcomes.

Rivke Jaffe is Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Amsterdam. Jaffe’s work is situated at the intersection of geography, anthropology and cultural studies and is concerned with the spatialisation and materialisation of power, difference and inequality. Jaffe’s research includes postcoloniality and urban cultures of illegality in connection to more-than-human security assemblages in Jamaica, Mexico, Brazil and the Netherlands.