Temporalities of urban natures: narratives, imaginaries, and practices

Blog 30th May 2023

In this guest post Dr Lucilla Barchetta and Dr Mathilda Rosengren write about their workshop series, which has been supported by the USF with a Seminar Series Award.

Picture from September 2021 Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop in Venice (Italy). Group of people stand around a low table with printed maps and images.
Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop in September, 2021 (Venice, Italy). (source: Lucilla Barchetta/Mathilda Rosengren)

The workshop series Temporalities of urban natures: narratives, imaginaries, and practices (TUN) was instigated by Dr Lucilla Barchetta (Ca´ Foscari University of Venice) and Dr Mathilda Rosengren (Malmö University). In 2021 and 2022, over three connected workshops, we asked urban nature scholars from three European regions (Italy, Öresund [Denmark & Sweden], and Germany) to confront, consider, and incorporate various times and temporalities of urban natures in their own research. Our aim with the workshop series was to provide the foundation for a pan-European, interdisciplinary research network engaging with the temporal complexity of urban Anthropocene landscapes, which would continue to grow after the series had ended.

Photo of Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop 24-25th June 2022, Berlin (Germany). People sitting with laptops around a large desk, facing a projected screen at the front of the room.
Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop in June, 2022 (Berlin, Germany). (source: Lucilla Barchetta/Mathilda Rosengren)

As such, the TUN series provided a collaborative, non-hierarchical space to constructively rethink the (trans)disciplinary relationships between field sites and research objects/subjects in today’s climate of various global crises (ecological, social, economic, and democratic), where the acceleration of research temporalities oftentimes hinder or shape particular intellectual engagements with sites of observations. Grounding the workshop discussions in the thematics of “narratives”, “imaginaries”, and “practices”, we encouraged presenters to approach their research on urbanities and urban natures through the lens of various temporalities. We especially focussed on temporalities that in the past have mostly been conceived of as separate entities (ecosystemic, memorial, recreational, infrastructural, geological, historical, microbiological, socio-technical, administrative, and so forth).

Picture from October 2022 Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop in Malmö, Sweden. Group of people sat on a stony beach with a low sun.
Temporalities of Urban Natures workshop in October, 2022 (Malmö, Sweden). (source: Lucilla Barchetta/Mathilda Rosengren)

Through paper presentations, keynote sessions and local excursions, we examined how spatial changes of urban natures in Venice, Berlin, and Malmö (and beyond) was inherently bound up with their temporal settings. A distinguishing feature of the seminar series has been this interventional aspect, with contributions prioritising engaged scholarship and practices, demonstrating the relevance of contextual bodies of knowledge in response to the urgencies of the planetary crisis. Emerging themes from the workshop discussions (such as, globalisation, relational knowledge production, urbanisation, and conservation) shed light on how temporal narratives become valuable across geographical, professional, and disciplinary contexts. Reflections and documentation in text and image from participants and organisers may be found on the designated workshop website.

Furthermore, practical outcomes generated by the workshop series has been the creation of the now-active Temporalities of Urban Natures research network, including presenters and participants from the three workshops as well as interested and relevant parties who joined us as the series progressed. Presently, we are preparing to submit a Special Issue proposal to the Urban Studies Journal, which will consist of various contributions from the research network. Together with Dr Linda Lapina (Roskilde University and presenter at the Malmö workshop), Rosengren is also co-organising a panel at the LIFETIMES Temporalities conference at the University of Oslo in August 2023, continuing the exploration into temporalities of urban natures in a transdisciplinary, Scandinavian context.