This paper examines the growth of Logistics Service Providers (LSP) managing metropolitan solid waste (MSW), as well as, neoliberalism’s effect on the processes that allow for urban growth. The combination of global urban growth, the expansion of monopoly capitalism and domination of neoliberal policies throughout the world has resulted in MSW management to be increasingly outsourced to third party providers. However, these providers do not merely handle MSW. Rather, these private firms treat MSW as part of an integrated supply chain in which “waste” is a commodity handled by one of its many sectorial divisions. As such, MSW is not just a component of urban growth machines, but is part of an ever accelerating treadmill of production (Schnaiberg, 1980). The concept of the ‘treadmill of production,’ is a valuable tool for understanding the growing importance of logistics in this political and economic context. While, this paper will look at this process globally, I will pay special attention to the growth of LSPs in Turkey and their expansion into Pakistan. First, I will discuss the development of MSW in Turkey since the 1990s and its relationship to LSPs, and then I will discuss the role of Turkish firms in Pakistan.
Presented on March 21, 2014 at the Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX
This paper offers a theoretical approach to the relationship between of natural disaster and cities for a future project. As I have argued in past work, the local political-ecology of wildfire shapes the commodification process of land. Or more specifically, wildfire in the urban periphery or wildland-urban interface has a profound impact on the rent seeking behavior by local developers (Balaban & Fu 2014). Wildfire and other natural disasters, in other words play both a spatial and metabolic role in the commodification of space. In this presentation, I want to go further and argue that natural disaster functions as an urban “crisis” that allows for new forms of commodification within cities in the absence of a broader systemic crisis. As such, I look at a trialectical approach to natural disaster, capitalism and the built environment.
Presented on February 22 at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD
While Turkey and California suffer from similar wildfire risk, they have developed diametrically opposed fire suppression strategies: the former adopted an increasingly centralized strategy, while the latter dwells upon a highly decentralized system. This paper is a comparative analysis that relates the politics of land use in wild-urban interfaces (WUIs) to this divergence in firefighting strategies. Our argument is that evolution of the divergent fire suppression strategies in California and Turkey are linked to two different types of rent-seeking behavior. Developers and landed interest seek for absolute rent in Turkey and differential rent in California.
The decentralized strategy in California allows for distinguishing the property prices between areas of low and high protection and commodifies safety as a form of investment regulating the market prices of land. In Turkey, the tendency toward centralization of firefighting is a part of the composite political strategy to open new land for development by completing the hitherto unfinished cadastral records of the WUIs. Thus, the centralized firefighting strategy indirectly leads to extensive commodification of the WUIs in Turkey and expands the national land market.
(2014) w/ Utku Balaban. “Politics of Urban Development and Wildfires in California and Turkey.” Environment & Planning A. Vol. 46. No 4. pp. 820-836 DOI: 10.1068/a46163
In September of 2011, The New York Times reported that Reading, Pennsylvania had edged out Flint, Michigan as having the largest poverty rate amongst cities with over 65,000 residents. The article presents a fairly straightforward picture of a city that had fallen upon hard times, as job loss and lack of education allowed it to slip from the 32nd poorest city in 2000 to the poorest city in 2010 according to the U.S. Census (Tavernise 2011). This article is not surprising. In fact, stories depicting the struggles of America’s Rust Belt have been common since the 1980s. Downsizing, outsourcing and factory closures were (and still are) concepts that have framed popular political and economic discourse, as well as research on deindustrialization (Bluestone and Harrison 1982; Negrey and Zickel 1994). The article, however, like much of the literature on Rust Belt cities neglect a more long-term environmental component of urban decline. By environment, I am referring the built/physical aspect, as well as the natural/ecological dimension. Specifically, explanations for deindustrialization that emphasize aggressive corporate policies to maximize profit, or the outcome of globalization are missing 1) the role of natural resources and 2) the role of infrastructure in the built environment. This environmental dimension not only explains the shape of local decline, but helps us to understand the obstacles that affect renewal.
A version was presented at the Urban Affairs Association on Apr 6, 2013 in San Francisco, CA and the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting on August 13,2013 in New York, NY.
This article examines the seemingly incongruous ways in which Shelter-in-Place (SIP) practices have been sold, deployed and discussed in Southern California to battle wildfire. In particular, this will be a critique of the technical literature and application of fire safety in housing, as well as the anthropocentric hubris that humans can outsmart wildfire. Rather than focus on the success or failure of SIP, I am situating the SIP within the context of architecture, the history of fire safety, and the push of neoliberalism. The purpose of this approach is to make SIP and fire safe home design less about technology and know-how, and more about broader social issues such as privatization and social inequality.
(2013) “The Façade of Safety in California’s Shelter-In-Place Homes: History, Wildfire and Social Consequence.” Critical Sociology. Vol. 39. No 6. pp. 833-849. DOI: 10.1177/0896920512455936