Water and Power: urban political ecologies of finanacial crisis and the politics of a just transition
Funding period: 1 March 2018 – 1 March 2021
Type of funding: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Sage Ponder is a Research Fellow affiliated with the University of Minnesota department of Geography, Environment & Society. Her research is concerned with understanding how urban governance unevenly incorporates the mandates of sustainability and austerity urbanism, and highlighting the implications for environmental justice in the context of socio-ecological transition. Her doctoral work, The Life and Debt of Great American Cities: Urban Reproduction in the Time of Financialization, used the lens of financialized racial capitalism to examine the politics of urban water system renewal in Jackson, MS under post-crisis austerity, along with the historical treatment of the largest Black-majority cities in the American municipal bond market over the years 1970-2014. Her research program builds on her interest in the racialization of financial crisis by comparatively investigating the two largest municipal bond market bankruptcies in US history: Puerto Rico and Detroit. Here she is considering both the making and the lived experience of public utility privatization under austerity, in order to understand how economic recovery policies reinscribe racialized conditions of environmental crisis onto urban futures. Alongside this, she is also looking into the ways these conditions are being resisted or contested, and with what scope for emancipatory change.