Portfolio — Shaking Up the City (Tom Slater)

“Attempts to reclaim resilience in order to imagine and build better futures should not be trivialized or dismissed, not least because urban resilience (and resilience thinking more broadly) has been (and continues to be) embraced by progressive institutions, community organizations, grassroots struggles, and oppositional campaigns. Given material hardships, it is not difficult to see why developing resilience in contexts of entrenched and ongoing oppression is both practiced and encouraged. However, this is in itself a revealing trend. As Danny MacKinnon and Kate Derickson … explain, the ‘fundamental problem with the mobilizing discourse of resilience is that it places the onus squarely on local actors and communities to further adapt to the logics and implications of global capitalism and climate change.’ Perhaps the most powerful and certainly the most renowned critical response to this problem came from Tracie Washington, president of the Lousiana Justice Institute. She reacted to policy officials’ characterizations of victims of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as ‘resilient’ with words that were quickly distributed around the city on posters, and that subsequently went global, perhaps most dramatically reused in a loyalist neighborhood of west Belfast, near the Shankill Road…”

Stop calling me resilient. Boundary Way, Belfast, Northern Ireland. © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster