Coda

“The city and nature,
 the built stone and the found stone,
concrete and slate,
 poetry addresses them all democratically.”

Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Having arrived into this final writing, it is perhaps befitting to replace ‘poetry’ in the above quote with ‘UPE’ – after all, this journey has led me to explore the gamut of actor-networks constituting Taipei, a truly cyborg-ian city.

In my introductory post, I have alluded to UPE’s opportunities to  ‘reconcile the discordant environmental rhetoric’ of Taipei – bridging the realms of past to present, urban to nature. Through the later posts, such a perspective have indeed affirmed that Taipei comprise a ‘tapestry’ of natures, across which conflicting environmental challenges and opportunities are simultaneously ‘quilted’ into its social fabric (Swyngedouw and Kaika, 2014:476).

After all, Taipei’s landscape do exemplify interesting contradictions: it has a cherished water history that is increasingly tainted by contemporary commercialization; a previously indomitable industrial river that is increasingly loved today; it has been a nurturing guardian of bugs but a demolisher of trees; an advocate for land rights but a pillager of lands.

Despite UPE’s contradictory dialectics, I firmly believe this kaleidoscope of urban-natures ought to bring more clarity than confusion. Understanding Taipei as a ‘socio-ecological process’ (Heynen et.al, 2006) has helped frame nature as emergent from situated politics, thereby elucidating the question of ‘what went wrong and who can intervene’ within particular modes of nature production.

Taipei’s politics of water, bugs, land and trees has demonstrated that its growing eco-consciousness has come a long way to ‘right its historical wrongs’. However, there still exists many institutional barriers to overcome to meet its populace’s expectations of a truly harmonious relationship with nature. To this end, I am sure a UPE framework – with its attention to uneven power relations – can continue to fight the good fight towards a better urban future.

My UPE journey with Taipei have reached the coda, but it most certainly isn’t the end. UPE has bequeathed me with fresh eyes to begin reading the stories of other cities – written in the everyday rhythms of its news, its people, its parks and streets.

(347 words)

Bibliography

Heynen, N.  (2016) “Urban Political Ecology I: The urban century”, Progress in Human Geography, 38, 4, 598-604.

Swyngedouw, E. and M. Kaika (2014) “Urban Political Ecology, Great Promises, Deadlock… and New Beginnings”, Documents D’Analisi Geografica, 30, 3, 459-481.

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