Growing up sustainable? Politics of race and youth in urbanplan, Copenhagen

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This paper considers how racialized youth in Denmark negotiate sustainability amid contexts marked by intersecting forms of economic restructuring, progressive neoliberalism, white ethno-nationalism, and green urban planning. Urbanplan is a low-income, notoriously “troubled” Copenhagen neighborhood where we conducted fieldwork for 7 months (2019-2020) with fifteen male youth, aged 17-21. Using ethnography, policy reviews, and interviews with city social workers, we explore how intimate experiences of nature, group-identity, and place attachment here relate to and depart from the structural forces actively reshaping the neighborhood. Our analysis combines Cindi Katz's intersectional political economy approach with recent work on green gentrification, Critical Utopian Action Research, and Danish identity politics. The resulting “topography” of youth experience identifies distinctive spatialities of belonging and exclusion, and a faltering sustainability discourse that offers diminishing local returns. While youth in Urbanplan refuse to “grow up sustainable,” they await opportunities to enact more empowering forms of socio-environmental belonging.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)631-651
Publication statusPublished - 2024

ID: 358726634