Publication

  • Extraction Empire: Sourcing the Scales, Systems, and States of a Global Resource Empire
    Pierre Bélanger and Nina-Marie Lister
    Authors
    MIT Press, 2017
  • GRANTEE
    Pierre Bélanger & Nina-Marie Lister
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Eddie Mulholland, Tour of Duty: Queen Elizabeth II visits gold vaults at the Bank of England, 2012. Courtesy of Eddie Mulholland/AFP.

Extraction redefines our understanding of urbanism in the twenty-first century. From gold to gravel, copper to coltan, iron to uranium, geological resources support every single aspect of human life. If everything we build comes from the ground, then extraction is the process and practice that reshapes our assumptions about the territories of urban economies. Either in the assembly of smartphones, the infrastructure of highways, or the prices of precious metals, the geological materiality of raw resources redraws the conventional extents by which we understand cities as the center of urban development. The territories of extraction cover more than eight percent of the planet, extending across the lands on which the majority of the world's 1.5 billion indigenous people live. Where do these materials come from? How are they processed? Where do they go? How are nation states and corporations involved? These are fundamental questions of relevance to the emergence of a twenty-first-century resource urbanism. From surface rights above ground to mineral rights below ground, every dimension of urban life is mediated by the clash and convergence of resource extraction. It is our urban, political, and cultural ore.

Pierre Bélanger is an award-winning landscape urbanist, associate professor of landscape architecture and codirector of the graduate program in design studies at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, Bélanger is founder and director of OPSYS, a nonprofit organization for knowledge, media, and design, focusing on the convergence of urbanism, landscape, and ecology. He is author of Pamphlet Architecture 35, Going Live, from States to Systems (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015). Bélanger is guest editor of Harvard Design Magazine’s issue Wet Matter (2014), as well as the author of several books, including Ecologies of Power (forthcoming, MIT Press, 2016), Landscape as Infrastructure (forthcoming, Taylor & Francis, 2016), Risk Ecologies (MIT, 2014) and the Landscape Infrastructures DVD (2009). His research has been published in Landscape Architecture, Landscape Journal, Journal of Landscape Architecture, and the Landscape Urbanism Reader. He is an academic advisor to the US Army Corps of Engineers and recipient of the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts. He has been appointed curator of the Canada Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Nina-Marie Lister is an internationally recognized urban ecologist. As associate professor of urban and regional planning at Ryerson University and visiting associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Lister is a Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) with a background in ecology and environmental planning. She is also founding principal of plandform, a creative studio practice exploring the relationship between landscape, ecology, and urbanism. Lister is coeditor of Projective Ecologies (Actar, 2014), and The Ecosystem Approach: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability (Columbia University Press, 2008), as well as author of more than thirty professional practice and scholarly publications, including recent contributions to Ecological Urbanism (Harvard University with Lars Müller Publishers, 2010) and Large Parks (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008, winner of the J. B. Jackson Book Prize). Her work has been featured in several planning and design exhibitions, including those by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Toronto Design Exchange, and the Van Alen Institute.