Sustainable city as fantasy
There can be little doubt that our current ecological crisis is being framed through the idea of sustainability. As we plan to deal with anthropogenic climate change, we talk of becoming more sustainable. We are projecting a sustainability vision; a certain future that we desire to achieve. In this paper I offer a Lacanian interpretation of this vision, arguing that we must understand how ideas such as the “sustainable city” operate as fantasy constructs. Here I want to emphasize the particular operation of this fantasy, since it is the very form of this operation that stymies the true politicization of climate change. The paper draws on Žižek's reading of Lacan to illustrate how sustainability (as fantasy) relates to our knowledge of climate change. Two brief illustrations of the operation of sustainability as fantasy are then outlined. The first draws on recent city planning in London, UK, to show how fantasy has gentrified the traumatic elements of climate change. The second illustration draws on a brief conversation with an urban policy-maker to sketch out how transgression is a functioning part of sustainability fantasies. In conclusion the paper turns to the question of politics through a relating of Lacan's psychoanalytical cure with a politicization of economy.
Human Geography(United Kingdom)
Davidson, Mark, "Sustainable city as fantasy" (2012). Geography. 116.