210128 - Political animals: An interspecies approach to urban inequalities
Seminar Cities are back in town, Thursday 28 January 2021, 5.30 – 7.15 pm CET, Sciences Po, Webinar
In cities across the world, animals reflect, reproduce and transform urban inequalities – yet their role in mediating social hierarchies remains undertheorized. Recent urban scholarship has sought to understand how social inequality is shaped by infrastructure, technology and other forms of materiality. Yet cities are inhabited and produced not only by people and things, but also by animals. With their ambiguous subject/object position, animals play an important and unique role in shaping urban inequalities that is still poorly understood. Drawing on research on security dogs in Kingston, Jamaica, 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. Kingston’s security dogs have been socialized to identify threatening individuals on the basis of classed and racialized markers, and their deployment in urban policing reflects unequal geographies of protection and endangerment. The dogs’ perceptions of threat interact with more high-tech security systems and the everyday practices of security professionals, often reproducing entrenched forms of exclusion. Focusing on interactions between dogs, humans and infrastructure, this talk explores how animals’ everyday interactions with their cultural and material environments combine to result in (in)equitable social outcomes.
Speaker: Rivke Jaffe, Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Amsterdam
Connecting geography, anthropology and cultural studies, Rivke Jaffe's research focuses primarily on intersections of the urban and the political, and specifically on the spatialization and materialization of power, difference and inequality within cities. Her current work studies the role of security dogs in mediating urban inequalities in Jamaica. Her publications include Concrete Jungles: Urban Pollution and the Politics of Difference in the Caribbean (Oxford, 2016) and Introducing Urban Anthropology (with Anouk de Koning, Routledge, 2016).
Discussion: Dennis Rodgers, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
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