From heat waves to droughts, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods, cities the world over are increasingly vulnerable to the extreme forms of weather catalyzed by anthropogenic climate change. At the same time, they are also riven by social and political conflicts - from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, Spain’s Indignados, and the Black Lives Matter movement - sparked by the extreme inequalities generated by neoliberal racial capitalism. Indeed, as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy demonstrated in New Orleans and New York, vulnerability to “natural” disasters is above all a social calculus. Ashley Dawson’s public presentation, Extreme City, looks at attempts to build resilience in New York following Hurricane Sandy, asking what such efforts say not just for other cities such as Miami but about the shape of the urban future in general.
Ashley Dawson is Professor of English at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. He is the author of Capitalism and Extinction (forthcoming), The Routledge Concise History of Twentieth-Century British Literature (2013), and Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain (Michigan, 2007), and co-editor of four essay collections: Against Apartheid: The Case for Boycotting Israeli Universities (Haymarket, forthcoming); Democracy, the State, and the Struggle for Global Justice (Routledge, 2009); Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and the National Security Campus (Michigan, 2009); and Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism (Duke, 2007). A former editor of Social Text Online and of the AAUP’s Journal of Academic Freedom, he is currently at work on a book entitled Extreme City: Climate Change and the Urban Future.