Marcus Owens and Jennifer Wolch
The study of nonhuman animals in urban ecosystems is a recent but expanding field. This chapter explores the ways in which human-animal relationships in cities have historically been framed and argues that a consideration of nonhuman animals is vital to a robust urban theory in the age of ecology. The places of animals within the urban planning and design professions that shape cities are elucidated, along with contemporary developments in ecology that increasingly inform city planning, design, and management. The chapter then highlights four global dynamics that promise to radically reshape urban animal ecologies, and concludes with a call for lively cities characterized by the coexistence of people and animals.
Environmentalism should deal with the environment, meaning that which environs us; instead it too frequently deals with “nature.” If the latter term means that part of the world that humans haven’t transformed, the trouble is that nature doesn’t environ us: in the Anthropocene, we’re surrounded by an environment that humans have built. An environmentalism of the built environment would worry about why we’ve built it so badly, and would focus on the phenomenon of “reification,” whereby the actual practices of humans in constructing their world are hidden and the things and institutions surrounding us come to seem like “facts of nature.” Environmental problems are not problems about nature: they are social and political problems about how human practices ought to be organized and about the norms by which those practices ought to be guided.