Ecofeminist Ethics for Sustainable Urban Public Space


Throughout history, the public urban space has been the reflection of a city’s social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being. In the broader discussion of urban environmental sustainability, however, there has been a pronounced dualism and an implicit hierarchy of value when looking at the city-ecology paradigm. This corresponds to political-social, human-nature and subject-object divides within the Western tradition. General conversations on the sustainability of urban public spaces have predominantly used urban policies, planning theories and architectural engineering approaches to privilege quantitative aspects like morphology and energy, over qualitative aspects like experience, well-being, and equity; thus, giving greater value to the former. But in challenging such dualities, this paper adopts a critical and eco-feminist perspective, to investigate planning theories related to urban public spaces and to build a holistic definition of urban environmental sustainability. The methodology adopted uses contemporary feminist philosophy to critically investigate eco-feminist discussions of dualism, essentialism and ethics of care, in the context of design for environmental and social sustainability within urban public spaces.Through a theoretical analysis, firstly, we will establish that addressing sexual difference and intersectionality through design using the concepts of ethics of care and strategic essentialism can create an equitable experience in social spaces. Thirdly, we will contend that adopting new feminist and eco-centric qualitative approaches for analysing and designing urban open spaces can create community by addressing the micro-politics of social equity more amicably. Concluding, the paper will advocate eco-feminism as an integrative approach to achieve socio-ecological sustainability and wellbeing in urban public spaces.

Author Information
Rucha Newalkar, Iowa State University, United States
Andrea Wheeler, Iowa State University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: CITY2017
Stream: Sustainability: Ecology, Energy and the Environment

This paper is part of the CITY2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon