Kian Goh: From Urban Resilience to Climate Justice

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Kian Goh is an assistant professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. She researches urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization. Dr. Goh's current research investigates the spatial politics of urban climate change responses, with fieldwork sites in cities in North America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. More broadly, her research interests include urban theory, urban design, environmental planning, and urban political ecology. As a professional architect, she cofounded the design firm SUPER-INTERESTING! and has practiced with Weiss/Manfredi and MVRDV. She received a Ph.D. in Urban and Environmental Planning from MIT, and a Master of Architecture from Yale University. Dr. Goh is the author of the book Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice (MIT Press 2021). Other recent publications include articles in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society, Journal of the American Planning Association, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies, and Annals of the American Association of Geographers.


Kian Goh speaks about her new book Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice. The book examines the politics around climate change response strategies in three cities and the mobilization of grassroots activists to fight the perceived injustices and oversights of these plans. Goh explores initiatives such as Rebuild By Design in New York, the Giant Sea Wall masterplan in Jakarta, and Rotterdam Climate Proof, and discovers competing narratives, including community resiliency in Brooklyn and grassroots activism in the informal "kampungs" of Jakarta. Looking through the lenses of urban design and socioecological spatial politics, she reveals how contested visions of the future city are produced and gain power. Goh describes, on the one hand, a growing global network of urban environmental planning organizations intertwined with capitalist urban development, and, on the other, social movements that themselves often harness the power of networks. She reframes the critical concerns of urban climate change responses, presenting a sociospatial typology of urban adaptation and considering the notion of a "just" resilience.

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