Transition Urbanism and the Contested Politics of Ethical Place Making



Abstract:  This paper explores the contested construction of more relational urban imaginaries within a movement that is simultaneously committed to enhanced systems of care for distant places/others, and intensified regimes of (re)localisation. Transition Culture initiatives explore ‘how to prepare for a carbon constrained, energy lean world’ and stem from a concern for a post peak-oil global future. While the radical political openness of Transition Culture is in keeping with the vision of a more diverse polity imagined by advocates of relational space (for instance Amin, 2004), we argue that this openness is predicated upon an apolitical pragmatism that masks latent tensions between an environmentally benign localism and an ethics of care at-a-distance. If a transitional ethics of space occupies the uncertain ground between a relational and territorial geographical imagination, the Transition Culture movement provides a rich context within which to explore the ethical conundrums that stem from different tactics of place-making.