In this paper, I examine the ways in which urban parks are enrolled in political struggles to reorient the techniques of urban governance toward entrepreneurialism as the only viable model for economic development. Through a case study of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System, I examine a series of events during the previous three decades in which Fairmount Park has become subject to this reorientation toward entrepreneurialism. Specifically, I examine how parks, no longer treated as spaces of “nature”, have been reframed as self-supporting constituents of a business-minded urbanism, promotional tools for the attraction of new labor to the city, and a reinforcement of the notion of entrepreneurialism as the inevitable urban development strategy for the 21st century. Yet, I also argue that these transformations are always in a process of negotiation. Even as parks become subject to these dominating discourses, new park construction is a site in which the conceptual assumptions that underpin neoliberal urban policy aren’t frictionlessly transferred from one instance to another but, even when successful, require significant work to overcome competing visions of urban nature.
Gabriel, N. 2016.“No Place for Wilderness: Urban Parks and the Assembling of Neoliberal Urban Environmental Governance,” Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 19:278-284.