Joris Gort

Thesis title:

Spontaneous urban initiatives and collective socio-environmental assemblages: an investigation into non-dualistic conceptions of municipal governance in Almere, Netherlands.


In the midst of debates in urban studies and political ecology around the disciplines’ epistemological directions, urban agricultural studies have a great deal to contribute to alternative socio-environmental futures. Joris proposes a supportive case study that challenges hitherto dominant Anglophone narratives of urbanisation and municipal agency. The city of Almere, 30 miles east from Amsterdam, is seeing the rapid development of various urban-agricultural projects. Most prominently, the re-wilding experiment in the Oostvaardersplassen, the creation of an integrated horticultural neighbourhood ‘Floriade’ before its national exhibition in 2022 and the development of an urban-agricultural fringe, ‘Almere Oosterwold’. The restructuring of Almere’s urban socio-environmental integration presents conceptions of governance beyond a neoliberal approach, supporting opportunities for the creation of spontaneous urban natures. Thus, Joris will be asking the question: How does Almere challenge non-dualistic conceptions of municipal governance that entices the creation of collective socio-environmental assemblages?The project seeks to contribute to the current debate of diverging governmental stances to ecological assemblages by drawing upon work in both political ecology and urban studies. It analyses the city’s creation of spontaneous urban spaces for an alleged harmonious relation to its ecological knowledge. Local responses to such discourses have already taken place, such as neighbourhood initiatives regarding soil subsidence management. Welcoming such initiatives, Almere’s development before the national horticultural exhibition in 2022 poses as a potential milestone for the recognition of spontaneous and unintentional landscapes. The research will draw from neighbourhood initiatives and interviews with policy makers to critically analyse the municipal interference in the spontaneous urban experiments. Furthermore, I will be initiating a neighbourhood project that aims to exhibit the changing urban environmental relationship of residents to surrounding marginal ecologies. Consisting of exhibition pieces within neighbourhoods the project aims become part of a final exhibition, expected to be presented alongside Almere Floriade for the national horticultural exhibition in 2022.

First supervisor:

Alex Loftus


8 – Urbanisation, Social Change & Urban Transformation