Henrik Ernstson

Visiting Scholar in Residence

Dr. Henrik Ernstson is an Associate Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden); a Lecturer in Human Geography at The University of Manchester (United Kingdom); and an Honorary Associate Professor at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town (South Africa). He focuses on urban political ecology and the contested character of how biophysical relations and landscapes are increasingly urbanized (i.e., conflicts in built-up environments and how urban-driven economies appropriate landscapes and ecosystems far from cities). He has developed a situated and postcolonial approach to political ecology with case studies of biodiversity, wetlands, coastal ecosystems, and infrastructure in Cape Town, Kampala, Luanda, New Orleans, and Stockholm. He has explored the staying-power of colonial remains in social, cultural, and material aspects, viewing urbanization as an expansive yet varied political-ecological process tightly interlinked with the histories and geographies of global capital. Two edited volumes have consolidated his work: Grounding Urban Natures: Histories and Futures of Urban Ecologies with Sverker Sörlin (MIT Press, 2019) and Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-Obscene with Erik Swyngedouw (Routledge, 2019). He has also contributed to the environmental humanities with full-length documentary films with Jacob von Heland: "One Table Two Elephants" (84 min, 2018) on knowledge politics in Cape Town, and "Lindeka’s Book" (85 min, 2022), on active colonial remains in eThekwini-Durban. Earlier he made core contributions to critical studies of ecosystem services, ecosystem governance, and social network analysis in natural resource management. He brings students, artists, and scholars together, co-founding the PhD School Democratic Practices in Unequal Geographies, Situated Ecologies Platform, and Situated Urban Political Ecology Collective. Henrik was a visiting scholar at SESYNC in 2015.

External Links:

Photo of Henrik Ernstson
2015 - Present
Areas of Expertise
political ecology
urban studies
postcolonial urbanism
human geography
environmental humanities
Research Interests
environmental knowledge politics
contested infrastructure
social movements
value articulation
active colonial remains
sacrifice zones
critique of capitalism
South Africa
Methods of Expertise
case study analysis
qualitative analysis
cinematic ethnography
social network analysis
archival methods