mobilising intersectionality as compass in urban climate action

Thursday 16 January 2020 | 18:00 – 20:00

PlanWirtschaft (PlaWi) student-run cafeteria
Ground Floor, Building B, TU Campus, Hardenbergstraße 40A (click here to view map)

Fishbowl / conversation-style

This event is OPEN, but to help us in setting up the venue appropriately and in organising the reception please register using this link (click here).


In light of rising frequency of natural disasters and crises, today many are discussing how to go about the necessary processes of climate change adaptation of our cities and billions of dollars are being committed to this purpose. However, the majority of these debates – particularly on levels that target urban policy (re-)formation – are focused on exploring technical and technological solutions that fail to tackle causal issues of these crises. At the heart of these issues is social and structural violence that materialises through the construction of difference and the normalisation of socio-economic and political inferiority (i.e. systematic exclusion in times of the mantra of inclusion and community participation).

At a time when ‘intersectionality’ is becoming a buzzword, this plenary argues that there is a need to understand it as more than just ‘subjectivity formation’ and examine its materialisations in everyday life, particularly in the physicality of the city. We need to discuss its problematics and possibilities, which requires resituating it into histories of colonialism, indigeneity and racialisation. These still strongly play out in contemporary urban dynamics of capitalist production and consumption, social reproduction, and in the ways cities are (re)shaping. Thus, in this Plenary we aim to explore new ways to anchor intersectionality, less as a conceptual flag and more as a mobilising force around issues of social and environmental violence, and therewith the plaguing inequalities that are structurally engendered through (but certainly not limited to) urban policies.

Further, in this Plenary we want to shed light on the contradictions of (mostly western) environmental justice movements, particularly in regards to the flattening of the question of life and the role they are playing in blurring talks on coloniality and the afterlives of colonialism and slavery. In doing so, we aim to explore ways to mobilise difference in order to combat social and environmental violence on both levels: the behavioural (the everyday) and the structural (influence systems of knowledge production and urban governance). Hence, connecting the previous to the foci of our research project “Mapping for Change”, we will discuss what social questions and modalities can help us re-think and modify mapping tools and the ways we use them. Specifically, we want to discuss how mapping processes can be designed to communicate complex ethnographic knowledge through first-hand experiences and community involvement in the production of maps and visualisations (to created rooted, alternative awareness). We will also discuss how ‘critical cartography’ operates in terms of rethinking binaries and normalising pluralisms (vis-à-vis ‘national identities’ and ‘Leitkultur’ in face of globally rising fascism). And, we want to discuss how mapping can be a means for communicating intellectual projects that make political stances against the powerful by connecting anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-sexist struggles and solidarities.



A cultural geographer, is Professor in the Doctoral Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she is also affiliated with the Programs in Environmental Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and American Studies. Her research concerns social reproduction, the production of nature, the workings of the security state in everyday environments, the privatization of the public environment, the cultural politics of childhood, and the intertwining of memory and history in the geographical imagination. She has published widely on these themes as well as on social theory and the politics of knowledge.  In a variety of collective endeavors Katz is continuing to develop her ideas around ‘minor theory, and ‘counter-topography.’ She is working on two book projects: ‘childhood as spectacle’ and a collection of her writings on social reproduction. She has collaborated with artists in projects at the Santa Fe Institute for the Arts, the Whitney Curatorial Program, Mary Miss’s City as Living Laboratory, Parsons/The New School University, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. Her book “Growing up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives” (University of Minnesota Press 2004) received the Meridian Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work from the Association of American Geographers. Katz held a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2003-4, and was the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor of Gender Studies at University of Cambridge in 2011-12.


Climate activist in Berlin and part of BPoC Environmental and Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin. Narrations by her father of growing food in Akwa Ibom, in a way that also takes care of the land, started Imeh on the path of thinking about the interrelatedness and interdependence inherent in the human-nature relationship. Imeh studied Social Sciences and Integrated Natural Resource Management in Berlin, and Indigenous Australian Studies in Perth. Imeh gives lectures and workshops on issues of in/justice in the climate crisis, interrogating the continuous presence of racism and colonial continuities in this crisis.


Associate Professor of Africana Studies and specializes in the critical study of race, gender, and politics in the Americas with a particular focus on black women’s activism, urban geography and questions of citizenship, feminist theories, intellectual history and disciplinary formations, and the interrelationship between scholarship, pedagogy, and political engagement. She has conducted extensive research in Mexico, Jamaica, Belize, Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. She recently completed “Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil” which is an ethnographic study of black women’s activism in Brazilian cities. The book examines their participation and leadership in neighborhood associations and how and in what ways their interpretations of racial and gender identities intersect with urban spaces. She is currently writing “Anthropology for Liberation: Research, Writing and Teaching for Social Justice” while working on two other research projects. She is engaged in a study which documents and analyzes the historical paradox of citizenship and black land ownership and loss in Brazil, Jamaica, and the United States. She is also working on a multi-lingual and transnational exploration of black women’s political work in Latin America by critically examining how black women mobilize political movements across borders and how they understand themselves as agents in creating a diasporic community.


Scholar-activist and University lecturer. Her current research theorizes the corporeal logic of everyday gendered, racialized and sexualized violence. She has worked as an educator, organizer, cultural curator, policy analyst, researcher and public speaker in academia, government, media, arts and community-based organizations. Khosla returned to academia after a long journey of activist engagement in community projects and working at various political levels to reflect on and break through the cul-de-sacs and questions that haunt social movements in their quest for social transformation. Building on a long and varied activist history her work on racialized, gendered and sexual violence speaks to the violent production of marked bodies and rethinks the social contours of race, gender, sexuality and dis-ability as a crucial foundation and erased third leg of the present world system. At once de-colonial, feminist and historical materialist, Khosla’s theorization of the corporeal social realm and its role in capitalist and spatial productions moves past the limits of a cultural, discursive, political-economic, territorial-geographical analytical architecture that defines radical social and political thought.


Photo by Diana Levine


Catherine D’Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity. D’Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. She has run reproductive justice hackathons, designed global news recommendation systems, created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures, and led walking data visualizations to envision the future of sea level rise. With Rahul Bhargava, she built the platform, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her forthcoming book from MIT Press, Data Feminism, co-authored with Lauren Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Her research at the intersection of technology, design & social justice has been published in the Journal of Peer Productionthe Journal of Community Informatics, and the proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM SIGCHI). Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, and the Knight Foundation and exhibited at the Venice Biennial and the ICA Boston.

Photo by Jana Gumprecht


Ilana Boltvinik is a visual artist and researcher, co-founder in 2009 of the collective TRES. Their art-based research practice is concentrated on the implications of public space and garbage. Of particular interest has been the inquiry on garbage as a physical and conceptual residue that entails political and material implications. One fundamental aspect of the Boltvinik-Viñas collaboration is the methodological intertwining with biology, anthropology and archaeology among other disciplines. Boltvinik works in the Art and Culture Department at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City as a full-time faculty professor. She also collaborates in the Interdisciplinary Department of the National Center for the Arts, and in SOMA Mexico. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences and Humanities from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana (UAM-C), Mexico City; postgraduate studies at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Netherlands; and undergraduate studies in Arts at the National School of the Art (ENPEG), Mexico City.  She is currently a grantee of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte (SNCA 2018-2020), of the Secretary of Culture in Mexico. In 2016, she was awarded the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography, by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, with which she and Viñas are investigating marine debris of Australian beaches. Ilana considers herself a multi-level scavenger that enjoys long walks observing the floor.


Philippe Rekacewicz is a French geographer, cartographer/Information designer. After the completion of his study in geography at University of Paris la Sorbonne, he became in 1988 a permanent collaborator of the international newspaper Le Monde diplomatiquein Paris which he left in 2014. From 1996 to 2007, he was also heading the cartographic unit of a relocated office of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in Norway. Since 2014, he works as a geographer cartographer for art museum, geopolitical institutes and international organizations. He is co-coordinator, with Philippe Rivière, of the website, a research website dedicated to “radical and experimental cartography and geography”, Since January 2017, he is associate researcher at the department of Anthropology for the University in Helsinki (Finlande) working on the programme “Crosslocation”. He follows particularly issues such as demography, migration, refugees, displaced and statelessness persons. More broadly, geopolitics and geostrategy, war and conflicts as well as social territories, public and private space. Philippe Rekacewicz works also on number of other project which bring together cartography, art and politics, especially studying how communities, political or economical powers produce the cartographic vision of the territories on which they operate, And how they can manipulate an lies with maps.