Research Seminar | Embodying and resisting urban climate injustice: intersectional vulnerabilities and radical adaptations of migrant residents in el Raval, Barcelona
Heat is becoming a central concern for many European cities whose efforts for adaptation tend to reproduce inequities, sidelining the needs and concerns of those mostly affected. While community-based adaptation and the integration of local knowledge have long been considered key for enhancing just adaptation outcomes, the notion of “local community” has rarely been problematized under a climate justice lens. How are migrants from Majority World countries included or excluded from local visions of adaptation is an urgent question that has rarely been asked. Panagiota Kotsila will present findings from a collaborative research project in Barcelona, where through participatory photography we examined the everyday modalities through which ordinary people, and specifically MW immigrants, strive to provide for a healthy and meaningful life in marginalized neighbourhoods, and the limitations that they face in times of extreme heat. Drawing from feminist political ecology, Panagiota Kotsila troubles the “margin” as a place where exclusion and empowerment converse, and thus advance the notion of vulnerability, less as a fixed positionality and more as an embodiment of intersectional injustice and a place from where radical adaptations emerge.
Panagiota Kotsila is a ‘Ramon y Cajal’ research fellow at ICTA-UAB and the PI of the 5-year ERC-CoG project (IMBRACE) which looks at what shapes immigrants’ climate health vulnerability and how situated knowledges inform both their own response capacities and urban climate adaptation more broadly, towards more effective and just approaches. She is a biologist by training (National University of Athens), with a Joint Master’s degree on Environmental Studies (Universidade de Aveiro, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), and a PhD in Development Studies from the University of Bonn (ZEF-Center for development Studies). In 2016 she returned to ICTA-UAB as a Marie-Curie fellow in the ENTITLE-ITN network, where she contributed to political ecologies of health and disease through the study of malaria spread in agricultural areas in Greece during the economic crisis. From 2019-2023 she was the co-PI of the H2020 WEGO-ITN (www.wegoitn.org) on feminist political ecology. Her research spans from the politics of water and sanitation development, to the bio/necro-politics of public health, the neoliberalisation of urban nature, and the grassroots struggles for urban climate and health justice, particularly in relation to migration and racialized groups.