"Regulating Wildness: Planning Discourses of Weeds and Wildlife in Washington, D.C."

Triman, Julia, Constructed Environment - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Beatley, Timothy, AR-Planning Dept, University of Virginia

Plants and animals appearing in great numbers where humans do not want them complicate and challenge discourses of order and the singularity of human intentionality embedded in urban planning theory and practice. What do these heterotopic shadow species that are outwardly reviled yet intimately connected to humans provide in opposition and as complements to more formal, ordered, and controlled aspects of cities, both ecologically and experientially? My approach to studying this topic includes an explication of theoretical positions towards urban “natures” evident in contemporary planning scholarship, and textual and visual analyses of how weeds and wildlife appear in Washington, D.C. planning and regulatory discourses at particular moments in the city’s history. The District of Columbia plays a significant role in shaping American planning history via the exemplary McMillan Plan, and also has intrinsically interesting historical and contemporary regulations and plans responding directly to heterotopic plants and animals, among them the 1899 Weed Removal Act and the 2010 Wildlife Protection Act. Through these cases, this dissertation argues the need to plan for urban plants and animals in relational ways that acknowledge both social construction of “natures” and immediacy and importance of nonhuman materiality as part of urban life.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
urban planning, urban nature, weeds, wildlife, foucault
Sponsoring Agency:
American Association of University WomenLincoln Institute of Land Policy
Issued Date: