Axel Springer Lecture
Citizenship and Climate Change: Flooding, Recovery, and the Politics of Water
This lecture was postponed due to public health concerns with COVID-19. Please check back for updated information, and thank you for your understanding.
Three “500-year-flood events” hit the city of Houston between 2015 to 2017, culminating in the massively destructive Hurricane Harvey. A major port city with a history of flooding, Houston has long had a contentious relationship to water. But now, climate change is bringing more rain more frequently, challenging even the most ambitious flood-management plans. In this talk, Dominic Boyer explores how Houstonians have reacted to recent catastrophic floods and how those floods have impacted citizens’ emotional attachments to their neighborhoods and city, and changed their sense of political agency. He looks at Houstonians’ varying levels of political response—often split along class and racial lines—and raises a key question facing all water-adjacent cities in the age of climate change: Will it actually be possible to control nature through technical expertise, engineering, and city planning? Or is it time to imagine a different, more “amphibious” version of the metropolis?