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Ernstson, Henrik, Dr.ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-6415-4821
Biography [eng]

Dr. Henrik Ernstson is developing a situated approach to urban political ecology with a special focus on southern and postcolonial urbanism. He combines urban political ecology, urban studies, STS, and social movement studies, alongside interdisciplinary research in urban and landscape ecology. He is also developing film-based research practices using cinematic ethnography, montage and essay film to engage in the texture, embodiment, and situatedness of political and environmental practices, knowledges and politics.

Publications (10 of 43) Show all publications
Lewis, J. A. & Ernstson, H. (2019). Contesting the coast: Ecosystems as infrastructure in the Mississippi River Delta. Progress in Planning, 129, 1-30
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contesting the coast: Ecosystems as infrastructure in the Mississippi River Delta
2019 (English)In: Progress in Planning, ISSN 0305-9006, E-ISSN 1873-4510, Vol. 129, p. 1-30Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We develop an analytical repertoire for understanding historical interrelationships between water infrastructure, regional environmental politics, and large-scale coastal ecosystems. In doing so, we scrutinize how notions of urban resilience, climate adaptation, and ecosystem-based infrastructure are influencing contemporary planning practice. Our account from New Orleans and the Mississippi River Delta traces several large-scale hydrological engineering projects with origins in the early 20th century, which aimed to restructure the landscape for more effective maritime transportation, flood protection, and urban drainage. The account then turns to a discussion of a massive and ongoing planning project, which aims to restore the historical dynamics of the Mississippi River Delta, diverting the river into nearby coastal wetlands to provide storm protection for vulnerable communities, most especially New Orleans. Our analysis shows how the development of water infrastructure systems in the region produced cleavages in the region's body politic and eco-hydrology, generating disputes that threaten to slow or obstruct the plan's implementation. The study shows how the forms and discourses of political contention in the present are deeply informed by past decisions regarding the placement, operation, and maintenance of water infrastructures in the region. The conflicts that emerge from these cleavages comprise the primary obstacle facing ecosystem-based strategies aimed at securing New Orleans and other major settlements in the region from storm surges. This raises fundamental challenges for planning practice, which are explored here through a discussion of situational dissensus, conflicting rationalities, and pathways for democratic institutional innovation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2019
Keywords
New Orleans, Deltaic landscapes, Environmental politics, Urban ecology, Expertise
National Category
Environmental Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-251337 (URN)10.1016/j.progress.2017.10.003 (DOI)000464482700001 ()2-s2.0-85035814320 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20190523

Available from: 2019-05-23 Created: 2019-05-23 Last updated: 2019-05-23Bibliographically approved
Henao Castro, A. F. & Ernstson, H. (2019). "Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta!" Postcolonial Remains and The Politics of the Anthropo-ob(S)cene. In: Ernstson, Henrik; Swyngedouw, Erik (Ed.), Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities (pp. 69-87). Abingdon and New York: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta!" Postcolonial Remains and The Politics of the Anthropo-ob(S)cene
2019 (English)In: Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities / [ed] Ernstson, Henrik; Swyngedouw, Erik, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019, p. 69-87Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We use postcolonial theory to interrogate the discourse of €œthe Anthropocene€ and its depoliticizing effects. It is maintained that the way that the Anthropocene€ discourse has been articulated within parts of postcolonial theory is deeply problematic and risks making the political itself categorically unthinkable and ontologically evacuated. In an attempt to disrupt this deadlock, we combine post-foundational and postcolonial theory to propose three performative interruptions against conditions of exclusion—the politics of time, the politics of translation, and the politics of the stage. These build a platform to re-launch the political performativity of subaltern experiences in the here and now.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019
Series
Questioning Cities
Keywords
Postcolonial studies, Decolonial thinking, Political Ecology, Political Theory, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Anthropo-obscene, Jacques Rancière
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-243848 (URN)9781138629196 (ISBN)9781138629189 (ISBN)9781315210537 (ISBN)
Projects
Socioecological Movements in Urbanized Ecosystems (MOVE, Formas, PI H Ernstson)
Note

QC 20190207

Available from: 2019-02-07 Created: 2019-02-07 Last updated: 2019-02-11Bibliographically approved
Ernstson, H. & Nilsson, D. (2019). Histories of Heterogenous Infrastructures: Negotiating Colonial, Postcolonial and Oral Archives in Kampala, Uganda. In: : . Paper presented at Royal Geographic Society, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019, 28-30 August..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Histories of Heterogenous Infrastructures: Negotiating Colonial, Postcolonial and Oral Archives in Kampala, Uganda
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Critical infrastructure studies are growing in importance to understand how sociocultural, ecological, and ecological relations are inscribed, negotiated, and contested in urban spaces. A major effort has been to ground such work in experiences of the global South, moving beyond the “modern infrastructure ideal” a fully networked city, towards conceptualizations of incremental, peopled, and heterogenous infrastructure. However, there are still few historical studies that depart from these new conceptualizations. In this paper we draw upon our empirical work in Kampala, Uganda, in an attempt to historicize “heterogenous infrastructure configurations” (Lawhon et al. 2017) through combining (and constructing) three distinct historical archives: (i) the colonial archives (based on traditional archival work in Kew National Archives in London); (ii) the official postcolonial archives (which meant to crisscross through Kampala to assemble documents, reports, photos and legal notes); and (iii) oral histories (where we interviewed elderly women and men with a long family history in the city). This work has led to several pertinent questions about “what to make of the colonial archives when they systematically exclude or distort the wider heterogenous infrastructure reality that surely existed in parallel to the ‘European’ city?” “why are postcolonial archives so difficult to find and assemble?” and “how to draw upon the richness and texture of oral histories from particular places, families and persons.” This paper then, reflects on how we have grappled with working across these archives with the aim to contribute more general ideas of how to situate and historicize the study of contemporary infrastructures in a postcolonial world (in communication with postcolonial historians as in Mamdani, Chakrabarty, Lalu, and Benson). By pushing different narratives to confront and clash, and by critically looking at our own practice, new histories arise. But also new questions; some which should have been asked long ago. We argue here for an approach of heterodoxa; one that opens for different meanings, archives and locations from where to construct histories and futures about infrastructure and urban spaces.

Keywords
urban studies, history, infrastructure, postcolonial studies, Southern urbanism
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-258833 (URN)
Conference
Royal Geographic Society, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019, 28-30 August.
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-03543
Note

QC 20191106

Available from: 2019-09-11 Created: 2019-09-11 Last updated: 2019-11-06Bibliographically approved
Ernstson, H. & Swyngedouw, E. (2019). Politicizing the Environment in the Urban Century. In: Ernstson, Henrik; Swyngedouw, Erik (Ed.), Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities (pp. 3-21). Abingdon and New York: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Politicizing the Environment in the Urban Century
2019 (English)In: Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities / [ed] Ernstson, Henrik; Swyngedouw, Erik, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019, p. 3-21Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter focuses on the book’s central theme on how to organize anew the articulation between emancipatory theory and political activism. Framed against the background of five major transformations that deal with planetary urbanisation to de-politicization, we argue that while UPE and associated fields have offered ways to analyse the politics of nature, they have less to offer in terms of what to do, in terms of thinking with radical political activists about new imaginaries and practices of emancipatory socio-ecological change. In light of this, we present the chapters as enriching the approaches to re-centre the political in thought and action in environmental and urban studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019
Series
Questioning Cities
Keywords
Political Ecology, Urban Political Ecology, Political Theory, Human Geography, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Anthropo-obscene, Social movements
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-243852 (URN)9781138629196 (ISBN)
Note

QC 20190211

Available from: 2019-02-07 Created: 2019-02-07 Last updated: 2019-11-18Bibliographically approved
(2019). Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities. Abingdon & New York: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities
2019 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities centres on how to organize anew the articulation between emancipatory theory and political activism. 

Across its theoretical and empirical chapters, written by leading scholars from anthropology, geography, urban studies, and political science, the book explores new political possibilities that are opening up in an age marked by proliferating contestations, sharpening socio-ecological inequalities, and planetary processes of urbanization and environmental change. A deepened conversation between urban environmental studies and political theory is mobilized to chart a radically new direction for the field of urban political ecology and cognate disciplines: What could emancipatory politics be about in our time? What does a return of the political under the aegis of equality and freedom signal today in theory and in practice? How do political movements emerge that could re-invent equality and freedom as actually existing socio-ecological practices? The hope is to contribute discussions that can expand and rearrange critical environmental studies to remain relevant in a time of deepening depoliticization and the rise of post-truth politics.

Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene will be of interest to postgraduates, established scholars, and upper level undergraduates from any discipline or field with an interest in the interface between the urban, the environment, and the political, including: geography, urban studies, environmental studies, and political science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2019. p. 272
Series
Questioning Cities
Keywords
Political Ecology, Urban Political Ecology, Political Theory, Human Geography, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Anthropo-obscene, Social movements
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-243850 (URN)9781138629196 (ISBN)
Projects
Socioecological Movements in Urbanized Ecosystems (MOVE, Formas, PI H Ernstson)
Note

QC 20190304

Available from: 2019-02-07 Created: 2019-02-07 Last updated: 2019-11-14Bibliographically approved
Swyngedouw, E. & Ernstson, H. (2018). Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene: Immuno-biopolitics and Depoliticizing Ontologies in the Anthropocene. Theory, Culture and Society. Explorations in Critical Social Science, 35(6), 3-30
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene: Immuno-biopolitics and Depoliticizing Ontologies in the Anthropocene
2018 (English)In: Theory, Culture and Society. Explorations in Critical Social Science, ISSN 0263-2764, E-ISSN 1460-3616, Vol. 35, no 6, p. 3-30Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper argues that the Anthropocene' is a deeply depoliticizing notion. This de-politicization unfolds through the creation of a set of narratives, what we refer to as AnthropoScenes', which broadly share the effect of off-staging certain voices and forms of acting. Our notion of the Anthropo-obScene is our tactic to both attest to and undermine the depoliticizing stories of the Anthropocene'. We first examine how various AnthropoScenes, while internally fractured and heterogeneous, ranging from geo-engineering and earth system science to more-than-human and object-oriented ontologies, place things and beings, human and non-human, within a particular relational straitjacket that does not allow for a remainder or constitutive outside. This risks deepening an immunological biopolitical fantasy that promises adaptive and resilient terraforming, an earth system management of sorts that permits life as we know it to continue for some, while turning into a necropolitics for others. Second, we develop a post-foundational political perspective in relation to our dramatically changing socio-ecological situation. This perspective understands the political in terms of performance and, in an Arendtian manner, re-opens the political as forms of public-acting in common that subtracts from or exceeds what is gestured to hold socio-ecological constellations together. We conclude that what is off-staged and rendered obscene in the AnthropoScenes' carries precisely the possibility of a return of the political.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2018
Keywords
Anthropocene, biopolitics, de-politicization, environment, politics
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-237084 (URN)10.1177/0263276418757314 (DOI)000446872100001 ()2-s2.0-85042128237 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 211-2011-1519Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation
Note

QC 20181024

Available from: 2018-10-24 Created: 2018-10-24 Last updated: 2018-10-24Bibliographically approved
(2018). One Table Two Elephants. Stockholm and Cape Town: CPH:DOX 2018, Copenhagen International Film Festival
Open this publication in new window or tab >>One Table Two Elephants
2018 (English)Artistic output (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, pages
Stockholm and Cape Town: CPH:DOX 2018, Copenhagen International Film Festival, 2018
Keywords
Postcolonial; Urban nature; Knowledge; Expertise; Indigenous; Apartheid
National Category
Visual Arts History of Technology Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-230801 (URN)
Note

QC 20180618

This film is part of a wider project that uses film as a tool for research to challenge and complement the use of pen and paper in the humanities. We call this Visual Humanities and we closely with others in the Environmental Humanities.

Available from: 2018-06-16 Created: 2018-06-16 Last updated: 2018-06-18Bibliographically approved
von Heland, J. & Ernstson, H. (2018). One Table Two Elephants: A cinematic ethnography about race, nature and ways of knowing the postcolonial city. Copenhagen: Documentary Film, 84 minutes. World Premiere at CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Film Festival, March 20, 2018.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>One Table Two Elephants: A cinematic ethnography about race, nature and ways of knowing the postcolonial city
2018 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

"One Table Two Elephants" is a cinematic ethnography about race, nature and ways of knowing the postcolonial city. 

SYNOPSIS – This is a film about bushmen bboys, a flower kingdom and the ghost of a princess. Entering the city through its plants and wetlands, the many-layered, painful and liberating history of the city emerges as we see how biologists, hip hoppers, and wetland activists each searches for ways to craft symbols of unity and cohesion. But this is a fraught and difficult task. Perhaps not even desirable. Plants, aliens, memories and ghosts keep troubling efforts of weaving stories about this place called Cape Town.

THE PROCESS – Situated and grounded in lived experiences across a range of groups, this film follows different ways of knowing and tries to be a vehicle toward difficult yet urgently needed conversations about how race, nature and the city are intertwined in our postcolonial world where history is ever present in subtle and direct ways. This cinematic ethnography brings texture to understand a city like Cape Town, while providing possibilities to translate what is happening “there” to conversations about any city and its surroundings.

CONTEXT – One Table Two Elephants is created in a context of long-term urban research in Cape Town with an environmental and social science orientation. It is part of the projects Ways of Knowing Urban Ecologies and Towards a Visual Environmental Humanities at the KTH Environmental Humanities Lab that produce explorative and artistic forms academic knowledge production beyond writing and text.

CREATED BY – Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson. Cinematography: Johan von Reybekiel. Sound: Jonathan Chiles. Editing: Jacob von Heland. Assistant Editing: Henrik Ernstson. Sound Design and Mix: Jakob Oldenburg. Production Coordination: Jessica Rattle and Nceba Mangesi. Color grade: Johan von Reybekiel. Original Music: Louise Becker. Graphic Design: Erik Hartin.

PRODUCED BY – Telltales Film, in collaboration with The Situated Ecologies Platform, African Centre for Cities University of Cape Town and the KTH Environmental Humanities Lab. Support by the Swedish Research Council Formas and Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Copenhagen: Documentary Film, 84 minutes. World Premiere at CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Film Festival, March 20, 2018., 2018
Keywords
race, urban nature, ways of knowing, postcolonial studies, science and technology studies, ontological politics
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-243853 (URN)
Projects
Visual Environmental Humanities Project
Note

QC 20190212

CREATED BY – Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson. Cinematography: Johan von Reybekiel. Sound: Jonathan Chiles. Editing: Jacob von Heland. Assistant Editing: Henrik Ernstson. Sound Design and Mix: Jakob Oldenburg. Production Coordination: Jessica Rattle and Nceba Mangesi. Color grade: Johan von Reybekiel. Original Music: Louise Becker. Graphic Design: Erik Hartin. 

PRODUCED BY – Telltales Film, in collaboration with The Situated Ecologies Platform, African Centre for Cities University of Cape Town and the KTH Environmental Humanities Lab. Support by the Swedish Research Council Formas and Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond.

Available from: 2019-02-07 Created: 2019-02-07 Last updated: 2019-11-14Bibliographically approved
Lawhon, M., Nilsson, D., Silver, J., Ernstson, H. & Lwasa, S. (2018). Thinking through Heterogeneous Infrastructure Configurations. Urban Studies, 55(4), 720-732
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thinking through Heterogeneous Infrastructure Configurations
Show others...
2018 (English)In: Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980, E-ISSN 1360-063X, Vol. 55, no 4, p. 720-732Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Studies of infrastructure have demonstrated broad differences between Northern and Southern cities, and deconstructed urban theory derived from experiences of the networked urban regions of the global North. This includes critiques of the universalization of the historically-culturally produced normative ideal of universal, uniform infrastructure. We introduce the notion of “heterogeneous infrastructure configurations” (HICs) as a way to analyze urban infrastructure that builds on postcolonial critiques of knowledge, as well as ethnographies of everyday Southern urbanisms. We argue that the notion of HIC helps us to move beyond technological and performative accounts of actually existing infrastructures to provide an analytical lens through which to compare different configurations. Our approach enables a clearer analysis of infrastructural artifacts not as individual objects but as parts of geographically spread socio-technological configurations: configurations which might involve many different kinds technologies, relations, capacities and operations, entailing different risks and power relationships. We use examples from ongoing research on sanitation and waste in Kampala, Uganda- a city in which service delivery is characterized by multiplicity, overlap, disruption and inequality- to demonstrate the kinds of research questions that emerge when thinking through the notion of HICs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2018
Keywords
infrastructure; provincialising theory; Southern theory; urban political ecology; urban theory, 关键词基础设施, 地方化理论, 南半球理论, 城市政治生态学, 城市理论
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment; History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-216408 (URN)10.1177/0042098017720149 (DOI)000425065500003 ()2-s2.0-8504216514 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Heterogenous Infrastructure Configurations in Uganda Project HICCUP
Note

QC 20171102

Available from: 2017-10-20 Created: 2017-10-20 Last updated: 2019-09-11Bibliographically approved
Erixon Aalto, H. & Ernstson, H. (2017). Of Plants, High Lines and Horses: Civics and Designers in the Relational Articulation of Values of Urban Natures. Landscape and Urban Planning, 157, 309-321
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Of Plants, High Lines and Horses: Civics and Designers in the Relational Articulation of Values of Urban Natures
2017 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 157, p. 309-321Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper addresses three interventions into urban green spaces—a wetland in Cape Town, a post- industrial site in New York, and a park outside London. Through their different contexts, they help to grasp a wider phenomenon: the protection of urban nature through the development of protective narratives. We analyze these interventions as examples of “value articulation”, which we view as a relational and sociomaterial practice that requires the enrolment of people, plants, and things that together perform, spread, and deploy stories about why given places need protection. For each case study, we also highlight the moments when narrative practices move beyond mere protection and start to change the very context in which they were developed. We refer to these as projective narratives, emphasizing how novel values and uses are projected onto these spaces, opening them up for reworking. Our analyses of these successful attempts to protect land demonstrate how values emerge as part of inclusive, yet specific, narratives that mobilize and broaden support and constituencies. By constructing spatial linkages, such narratives embed places in wider geographical ‘wholes’ and we observe how the physical landscape itself becomes an active narrative element. In contrast to rationalist and external frameworks for analyzing values in relation to urban natures (e.g., ecosystem services), our ‘bottom-up’ mode situates urban nature in specific contexts, helping us to profoundly rethink planning and practice in order to (i) challenge expert categories and city/nature dichotomies; (ii) provide vernacular ways of knowing/understanding; and (iii) rethink the role of urban designers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-192256 (URN)10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.05.018 (DOI)000390183300029 ()2-s2.0-84982273772 (Scopus ID)
Projects
MOVE Socioecological movements in urbanised ecosystems
Funder
Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, 211-2011-1519
Note

QC 20160908

Available from: 2016-09-08 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2017-11-21Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-6415-4821

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