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65 5th Ave, Room 411
New York, NY, 10003
United States

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought at the New School incubates advanced transdisciplinary research and practice at the intersection of social theory and design and fosters dialogue on related themes across the university.

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Katinka Wijsman

Katinka Wijsman is a Ph.D. student in Politics at The New School for Social Research who explores the politics that shape the production of resilient coastal landscapes, with specific attention to the agency of non­humans, in Suriname, The Netherlands, and New York City.

KATINKA WIJSMAN is a Ph.D. student in Politics at The New School for Social Research and a Teaching Fellow at Eugene Lang Collage and the School of Public Engagement. Before coming to The New School she received an M.Sc. in Political Science from the University of Amsterdam, and an M.Sc. Industrial Ecology from Leiden University. Her current research explores the politics that shape the production of resilient coastal landscapes, with specific attention to social difference and the agency of non­humans. Using a feminist and multispecies ethnographic approach, her research asks how climate change governance deals with non­human agency in the production of resilient coastal landscapes; and what it means for the concept of political responsibility to include complex and dynamic assemblages of people, animals, plants and things.

Katinka's research project, Imagining Ecologies: High Water, Green Infrastructure, and the Politics of Non­Human Agency, explores these themes by interrogating the design and implementation of nature-­based infrastructure as a strategy of climate change governance. Maritime forests, artificial reefs, and sand peninsulas are created to mitigate the impact of storm surges and sea level rise, and are thus ways of curbing non­human agency for the benefit of humans. At the same time, these infrastructures explicitly harness the agency of the non­human to co­produce desirable outcomes, by tapping into their material properties and productive capacities. This dual understanding of non­human agency in climate change governance – as something to be limited while also utilized – provides a vista on how the performance of social and political systems through landscape design is conceptualized, organized, and legitimized. Through multispecies ethnographic encounters in three coastal places – Jamaica Bay, NYC; Coronie, Suriname; and Kijkduin, The Netherlands – Katinka traces the infrastructural assemblages bringing together policy makers, eco-­engineers, and landscape architects, with trees, grasses, fish, stones, and sand, and the ways in which their agencies are anticipated, unfold, and constitute political responsibility.

GRADUATE INSTITUTE FOR DESIGN, ETHNOGRAPHY & SOCIAL THOUGHT, 63 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10003