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Accepted Paper:

Greening Casablanca: From Financial Speculation to Speculative Imaginaries in Response to the Climate Crisis  
Cristiana Strava (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on the case of Morocco's planned new town of Zenata, “the first African city to be awarded an Eco-City Label (ECL)”, this paper explores the analytical and practical valences of 'speculative' approaches as part of current struggles for social and climate justice in North Africa and beyond.

Paper long abstract:

In the summer of 2022, Morocco announced the Phase 2 completion of Zenata, a so-called ‘New Green City’ occupying 5 km of polluted coast north of Casablanca. Created in 2006 at the initiative of the Moroccan State, Zenata has been celebrated as “the first African city to be awarded an Eco-City Label (ECL)”, a certification granted in 2016 during the COP 22 conference, before any ground had been broken on the site. One of several dozen ‘green’ megaprojects currently being built across the Kingdom, Zenata is a 1,9-billion-euro investment partly financed through EU loans, responsible for the forced-displacement of local informal communities on the periphery of Casablanca.

Based on research that combines participant-observation, online ethnography, and conversations with local activists and urban planners, this paper takes a three-fold approach: 

I first place recent developments like Zenata in the longer timeline of engagements with environmental discourses and agendas as part of Morocco’s colonial and post-colonial efforts to fight environmental degradation – efforts only recently refocused on coastal cities and anchored in the financialization of urban spaces. 

Secondly, I highlight several imaginative responses from ordinary Moroccans to both envisioned and already-existing ‘green’ projects. In this way, I foreground the profound and profoundly alternative ways in which ordinary inhabitants try to reclaim narratives about aspirational futures, and critique current planning regimes' orthodoxies. 

Finally, I aim to theorise the analytical and practical valences of 'speculative' approaches when taken outside the realm of finance capitalism and deployed as part of current struggles for social justice.

Panel Anth07
Assembling the sustainable city: from sedimented injustices to just urban futures
  Session 2 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -