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Landscape of Discontent

Landscape of Discontent: Urban Sustainability in Immigrant Paris

Series: A Quadrant Book
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Landscape of Discontent
    Book Description:

    On a rainy day in May 2007, the mayor of Paris inaugurated the Jardins d'Éole, a park whose completion was hailed internationally as an exemplar of sustainable urbanism. The park was the result of a hard-fought, decadelong protest movement in a low-income Maghrebi and African immigrant district starved for infrastructure, but the Mayor's vision of urban sustainability was met with jeers.

    Drawing extensively from immersive, firsthand ethnographic research with northeast Paris residents, as well as an analysis of green architecture and urban design, Andrew Newman argues that environmental politics must be separated from the construct of urban sustainability, which has been appropriated by forces of redevelopment and gentrification in Paris and beyond. France's turbulent political environment also provides Newman with powerful new insights into the ways in which multiethnic coalitions can emerge⎯even amid overt racism and Islamophobia⎯in the struggle for more just cities and more inclusive societies.

    A tale of multidimensional political efforts,Landscape of Discontentcuts through the rhetoric of green cities to reveal the promise that environmentalism holds for urban communities anywhere.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4388-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xliv)

    On a rainy day in May 2007, the mayor of Paris held an inauguration ceremony for the Jardins d’Éole, a new park billed as the first sustainable addition to the capital’s internationally renowned system of green spaces and public gardens. It was to be an auspicious occasion: two years before, the design was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in an exhibition touting innovative “palliative spaces” for “abused and polluted sites” in postindustrial cities.¹ In keeping with these transformative aims, the onetime railroad freight depot-turned-park is a far cry from famous Parisian gardens such as...

  5. 1 Poets and Locomotives: Ecology and Politics on the Margins of Paris
    (pp. 1-32)

    On a beautiful spring afternoon I took a stroll with Mamadou, who would later become one of my most trusted interlocutors in northeast Paris. Mamadou, who at that time was just embarking on a fruitful career in activism and Parisian politics, had invited me for a walk through the high-risecitéand the surrounding neighborhoods where he grew up. A native of Burkina Faso, and onetime aspiring rapper turned activist and advocate for immigrant youth, Mamadou shifted the conversation seamlessly between his adolescence in the neighborhood, the immense scale of urban redevelopment evident on nearly every street, and the evolution...

  6. 2 Space, Style, and Grassroots Strategy in the Éole Mobilization
    (pp. 33-64)

    As I spent time with residents and activists in northeast Paris, I became aware of an irony about the politics of urban parks: places where people supposedly go to “do nothing” reveal a great deal and even amplify the contradictions present in the surrounding city. Scholars, planners, and even many city dwellers often display a remarkable tendency to consider parks and green spaces as apolitical places of leisure and escape, or mere decoration. However, it is telling that the majority of people who use the Jardins d’Éole—and many neighborhood parks—are parents (and more often than not, women) with...

  7. 3 Cultivating the Republic? Parks, Gardens, and Youth
    (pp. 65-100)

    Sabine and I stood in the courtyard of an HLM high-rise on Rue de Tanger surrounded by dozens of children. The kids, variously yelling, running, and crying, were nearly bounding off the walls of the concrete plaza, where a few old hardwood trees provided shade and raised garden beds containing tomatoes and green beans rounded out the scene. This space was the work of Vivre Ensemble, an association that Sabine had founded in the early 2000s and run almost single-handedly (sometimes with the help of an intern) since then. I had originally heard about Vivre Ensemble because it created community...

  8. 4 The End(s) of Urban Ecology in the Global City
    (pp. 101-134)

    Five years after the Jardins d’Éole was inaugurated, during the summer of 2012 I attended a public hearing at Paris’s eighteenth arrondissement’smairie(town hall) over so-calledconflits d’usage.² By this time, residents in northeast Paris were witnessing a set of dramatic transformations of which the Jardins d’Éole was just one example. In addition to the park, the ZAC Pajol ÉcoQuartier was in the process of being completed, and throughout Paris green “transport” infrastructure was being rapidly expanded, including the widely publicized Vélib’ (Paris’s municipal bike-share program) and subsequently Autolib’ (an electric “car-share” modeled on Vélib’). The discussion of these...

  9. 5 To Watch and Be Watched: Urban Design, Vigilance, and Contested Streets
    (pp. 135-162)

    One of the most significant political implications of northeast Paris’s ecological redevelopment was made clear to me during an interview with Matthieu, a DEVE administrator who was charged with managing the park’s AAS (Agents d’Accueil et de Surveillance—welcoming and surveillance agents). When I asked him about the suitability of the Jardins d’Éole for securitization, he beamed at me proudly and pointed at his office roughly two hundred meters on the other side of the park from where we were standing. “From the moment I left my door,” he said, “I saw you were here and could watch you the...

  10. 6 The Political Life of Small Urban Spaces
    (pp. 163-190)

    The global economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008 and reverberated throughout the EU in the early 2010s has severely impacted France, where unemployment rose from 7 to 10 percent between 2008 and 2013.¹ The everyday reality of this downturn is especially visible in the Jardins d’Éole. The park increasingly functions as a shelter for the homeless as well as for international refugees, a place of respite for the unemployed, and an important node in a growing informal economy, the participants in which range from rag sellers to crack-cocaine dealers. An end result of these transformations has...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-200)

    My last experience in the Jardins d’Éole before completing this book was not a positive one. The evening before my flight back to Detroit, I decided to take advantage of a beautiful sunset to take photographs for the manuscript, so I lingered on my own in the park until closing time. As I stood at the top of an artificial hill, snapping pictures of the mostly empty garden below, I heard the voices of two young men, who sounded barely old enough to be teenagers.

    “Mister! Mister!” called one of the youths. I had seen the two around the neighborhood...

  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 201-204)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 205-222)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-238)
  15. Index
    (pp. 239-254)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)