16 Jan, 2024, 17:00
HCU, Holcim Auditorium

Public lecture series
  • Margarete Haderer, PhD (Vienna University of Technology)

    Revisiting the promises of eco-political experimentation: Achievements, appropriations, limits

  • Image © Clara Mross.


    In light of pressing challenges such as climate change, experimental interventions that are real-life, participatory, adaptive, and reflexive have been framed as indispensable incubators for transformative change towards greater sustainability. Yet, to what extent are the promises that were attached to eco-political experimentation around the turn of the 21st century still plausible today? In this lecture, I will first map what experimentation sought to be an alternative to in the fields of knowledge production, governance, and civic activism and how critics have responded to this agenda so far. Then I make a case for reassessing the promises of experimentation in light of current societal constellations such as the new invocation of (climate) science as an authority that demands political action (an authority experimental knowledge production sought to decentre); the de facto return of the state and more centralized forms of governing (which experimental governance sought to go beyond); the return of forms of activism that stress the importance of urgent and decisive action (which experimental action is in part an opposite to); and the emergence of civil society experiments in the service of exclusion if not authoritarianism (in contrast to the values of inclusivity and democracy usually attached to eco-political experimentation). The objective of this intervention is to establish a sensorium for the ambiguities that accompany experimentation, a sensorium which I regard as a precondition for experimental action that might actually achieve transformative change as opposed to merely generating hope for it.

    The lecture is based on this framing article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15487733.2023.2296722?src=exp-la

    About the lecturer

    Margaret Haderer (PhD, political science, University of Toronto) is a university assistant (postdoctoral researcher) at the Vienna University of Technology’s Faculty of Architecture and Planning. She works on urban experimentation, theories of socio-ecological transformation, (urban) climate governance, and post-crisis city (re)building. Her recent publications include the article ‘Experimental Climate Governance as Organized Irresponsibility’ (2023) and the monograph Rebuilding Cities and Citizens (2023).