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Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space

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Environmental management -- California, Environmental policy -- California -- Political aspects, Water -- Social aspects, Urban ecology (Sociology), Political ecology


Urban political ecology (UPE) has conceptualized the city as a process of urbanization rather than a bounded site. Yet, in practice, the majority of UPE literature has focused on sites within city limits. This tension in UPE evokes broader conversations in urban geography around city-as- place versus urbanization-as-process. In this paper, I bring a UPE analysis to examine co- constitutive urbanization and ruralization processes, focusing on sites beyond city boundaries in three empirical case studies located within the broader hydrosocial territory of urban Southern California. By focusing on the rural components of hydrosocial territories, I show that each of the three case studies has been shaped in very different ways based on its enrollment within urban Southern California’s hydrosocial territory; in turn, the rural has also shaped the cities through flows of politics and resources. The paper demonstrates how UPE can be usefully applied to understand rural places, illustrating how processes of urbanization can be involved in the production of distinctly rural – and distinctly different—landscapes. The cases demonstrate the utility of urban political ecology as an analytical framework that can examine co-constitutive urbanization/ruralization processes and impacts while maintaining enough groundedness to highlight place-based differences.


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