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Urban resilience for whom, what, when, where, and why?

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In academic and policy discourse, the concept of urban resilience is proliferating. Social theorists, especially human geographers, have rightfully criticized that the underlying politics of resilience have been ignored and stress the importance of asking “resilience of what, to what, and for whom?” This paper calls for careful consideration of not just resilience for whom and what, but also where, when, and why. A three-phase process is introduced to enable these “five Ws” to be negotiated collectively and to engender critical reflection on the politics of urban resilience as plans, initiatives, and projects are conceived, discussed, and implemented. Deployed through the hypothetical case of green infrastructure in Los Angeles, the paper concludes by illustrating how resilience planning trade-offs and decisions affect outcomes over space and time, often with significant implications for equity.
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Keywords: Urban resilience; adaptation; green infrastructure; social-ecological systems; urban sustainability; vulnerability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Publication date: March 16, 2019

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