Terrapolis – Modes of Inhabiting in the Anthropocene 2021/2022

Annual Theme

Cities are coproduced by multiple socio-ecological processes, and they are marked by the dense manifestations of interactions and coevolution of human and more-than-human life. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed multiple dimensions of the interconnectedness of life and the unanticipated consequences of expansive urbanization processes and accelerated mobility flows. So, how could this “wake-up call” be approached as a transformative moment for urban design admitting to its responsibility of making lives socially and environmentally just for humans and more-than-humans?

With this annual theme, we join this immense quest by thinking with the term Terrapolis, an “-n-dimensional niche space for multispecies worldling” in Donna Haraway’s conception. Terrapolis draws on Latin and Greek roots Terra- soil, and Polis- political community. It is a motivation to ignite speculative experiments for alternative political imaginaries of soil (Boden) in the Anthropocene; a call to rethink critically the uninhabitability of places amid extractivist and exploitative capitalist dynamics of enclosure and land grabbing; and ethics of "living and dying well with each other" prompting care and justice in the core of our practices (Haraway 2016: 11).

While imagining Terrapolis, we draw from rich work of feminist, post-colonial, and post-human scholars who challenge long-endured dualisms in the thinking of life and cohabitation “with and against the grain of urban designers” (Hinchliffe and Whatmore, 2006; Gibson-Graham, 2011). Such cohabitation of cities increasingly requires: “ecologies becoming urban, and cities becoming ecological” (Hinchliffe and Whatmore 2006: 128).

What are the dynamics, processes, materialities, and temporalities of inhabiting? What kind of alternative modes of inhabiting occur amid capitalist urbanization? How does inhabiting become precarious and volatile? How can we think of inhabiting as a form of caring and repairing the world? How can urban researchers and designers learn to build flourishing and liveable worlds for co-habitation?

We are interested in addressing these questions by exploring places, processes, actors, actions, and pedagogies that allow us to learn how cohabitation might flourish and be maintained. Those include, but are not limited to, transitional ecosystems (swamps, wetlands, meadows, estuaries), infrastructural spaces (waste, energy, consumption, transportation, urban greening, and green infrastructures, railway sidings, data centers, etc.), wastelands, leisure spaces (parks and allotments), urban transformation processes, and spaces of multispecies pedagogies.

Gibson-Graham JK (2011) A feminist project of belonging for the Anthropocene. Gender, Place & Culture 18(1): 1–21. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2011.535295.
Haraway D (2016) Staying with the Trouble. Duke University Press. Available at: https://www.dukeupress.edu/staying-with-the-trouble (accessed 14 July 2021).
Hinchliffe S and Whatmore S (2006) Living cities: Towards a politics of conviviality. Science as Culture 15(2): 123–138. DOI: 10.1080/09505430600707988.





Prof. Dr. Hanna Göbel


Acting Professor, Urban Anthropology and Ethnographic Methods

Prof. Dipl. Ing. Bernd Kniess


Professor, Urban Design