Friday, April 15, 12:10pm. Melissa Checker (Urban Studies, Queens College, CUNY) on “Sustainaphrenia: Hurricane Sandy and the politics of sustainability in New York City.” Buttrick 102.
This paper explains how a schizophrenic urban development agenda contributed to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in New York City. In so doing, I draw on several years of ethnographic research on Staten Island, which experienced widespread destruction and the city’s highest number of storm-related deaths. I show how several decades of rampant residential, commercial and industrial development belied the city’s “green” agenda by depleting wetlands and taxing local infrastructure. For years, local activists contested this development and warned that sea level rise and increasing storms would have drastic consequences for their neighborhoods. In the aftermath of the storm, they find that real estate interests continue to take priority over plans for both sustainability and resilience.