Boom Ecologies: Resources, Extraction, and Urbanization

MLA Thesis Section (2015-16)

Related Staff : Dorothy Tang

Students: JIA Wenjing Jennifer; SUN Yan Mavis; WANG Jun Emma; ZHANG Yiyue Rita

Natural resources are formed through millennia of slow geological processes but their extraction is often rapid, ephemeral, and driven by the market economy. The stable geologies of these sites are violently altered in very short time frames. Industrial processes that have been set in motion in the 19th Century have fundamentally changed the face of the earth through extraction of resources, modification of topography, and sprawling human settlements. Post-Fordist modes of production in recent decades have fundamentally changed the structure of global cities, shifting and scattering sites of production, extraction, and waste. This is particularly relevant now because of the scale and speed of resource extraction that is occurring in many different contexts, spurring rapid infrastructure and urban development. For example, China has now become the largest gold producer in the world, surpassing South Africa and the US. China is also the largest coal mining country in the world with vast coal mines being developed in Shanxi provinces and the largest open-pit coal mines in Inner Mongolia. Fracking in North Dakota, USA, has altered a sleepy rural state, with massive populations moving in and increased infrastructural demands. Energy production landscapes such as the Three Gorges Dam have caused entire cities to move and relocated over 1.1 million people, while nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl have erased human occupation and replaced them with wastelands. This thesis stream investigates the ecological, political, economic, and social changes related to urbanization—or deurbanization—associated with resources and their extraction. Students should be prepared to explore and advance issues of representation, technologies, and landscape planning.

Student theses this year included:
“Constructing a New Ground: Reducing construction waste through urban design guidelines” by JIA Wenjing Jennifer;
“Hazard or Disaster: Redefining vulnerability and managing climate change risk in Metro Manila” by SUN Yan Mavis;
“Beyond Compensation: Reforestation as agent to build community livelihood along the Myanmar-China oil and gas pipeline” by WANG Jun Emma; and
“Rebuild Habitat: Peatland rehabilitation, orangutan conservation and community construction in central Kalimantan” by ZHANG Yiyue Rita.

Enlarge Photo: Jennier JIA Wenjing
Enlarge Photo: Jennier JIA Wenjing
Enlarge Photo: Mavis SUN Yan
Enlarge Photo: Mavis SUN Yan