Accepted paper:

Green roofs: the materialization of nature and nature as a material


Jane Dickson (University of Dundee)

Paper short abstract:

Within the entanglements, commitments and practices of neoliberalism and environmentalism, 'Nature', in the form of green roofs, is being commodified as a solution to problems caused by using other forms of 'Nature', such as petroleum products, as a commodity.

Paper long abstract:

Neoliberalism and environmentalism can both be described as "a complex assemblage of ideological commitments, discursive representations, and institutional practices" not least because they developed together and influenced each other (McCarthy & Prudham 2003:2). However, their entanglements have been largely theorised within anthropology as concerns over the effects of neoliberal policies on the environment. Using the case of the green roof movement, it can be shown that the relationship is more reciprocal, with environmentalism interacting and helping to shape the way neoliberal governance is conducted. The success of the movement over the past 10 years is due to the materiality of green roofs which have been packaged for the market and this has led to their successful engagement and inclusion within the contemporary systems of neoliberal governance, evident in policy statements and commitments, in London and elsewhere. The production of values; scientific, commercial, environmental, social and political come together in a product which can be positioned to solve multiple problems, incorporated within existing models of production; be generic or specialized. Their incorporation within discourses of localism and individualism subsequently allows them to be absorbed into and implicated within the formation of policy at the local and city levels. Nature, here, has been materialized to mitigate and adapt to the problems caused by using nature as a commodity, a situation many would argue has caused the ecological problems in the first place.

panel P26
Anthropology in the material world