Ecological Gentrification in Response to Apocalyptic Narratives of Climate Change: The Production of an Immuno-political Fantasy

Earl Harper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Anxieties over the potential impacts of climate change, often framed in apocalyptic language, are having a profound but little-studied effect on the contemporary western urbanscape. This paper examines the ways in which current theorisations of 'Ecological Gentrification' express only half the process, describing how green space is used for social control, but not how ecology is used as a justification regime for such projects. As urbanites seek out housing and living practices which have a lower environmental impact, urban planners have responded by providing large-scale regeneration of the urbanscape. With the demand for this housing increasing, questions of inequality, displacement and dispossession arise. I ask whether apocalyptic anxiety is being enrolled in the justification regimes of these projects to make them hard-to-resist at the planning and implementation stages. The paper shows that in capitalizing on collective anxiety surrounding an apocalyptic future, these projects depoliticize Subjects by using the empty signifier of ‘Sustainability’ leading them into an immuno-political relationship to the urbanscape. This leaves Subjects feeling protected from both responsibility for and the impacts of climate change. Ultimately this has the consequence of gentrification coupled with potentially worsening consumptive practices, rebound effects and the depoliticization of the environmentally conscious urbanite.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number1
Early online date28 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2019


  • Ecological Gentrification
  • Apocalypse
  • Climate Change
  • Immunopolitics
  • post‐politics
  • psychoanalysis
  • fantasy
  • London
  • community
  • immunity


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