I’m a broadly trained political geographer interested in exploring how human-environment relations are governed in the context of contemporary crises. This leads me to examine the everyday practices, spacings and timings through which governing occurs, the forms of knowledge and reasoning that shape how we create truths about the world and act in the world, and the techniques deployed to create and contest those truth claims.
I began researching these topics through my work on disaster resilience and emergency management in Jamaica. This work drew attention to the biopolitical effects of community-based disaster resilience and catastrophe insurance: each form of intervention, in its own way, leveraged everyday insecurities to recalibrate the political economic dependencies and social and environmental exploitation that have shaped Caribbean political life since the plantation era; even as it created narrow possibilities for subversive forms of resistance. See, for example:
My current research activities further develop these topics through four projects:
Resilience, Racialization and Justice in Miami
As part of a number of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research networks, my work in Miami situates recent resilience planning initiatives in the region’s wider history of racial violence and segregated urban governance. Our research conducted through the support of the NSF-funded Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network examined how Miami resilience initiatives are both reproducing and challenging techniques of racialized governance that shape political norms and expectations in South Florida. Ongoing research supported through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Race, Risk and Resilience: Building a Local-to-Global ‘Commons for Justice’ project features collaborative research with community organizations engaging with and contesting resilience planning to articulate competing visions of a future Miami. Previous research supported through the National Science Foundation’s Urban Resilience to Extremes – Sustainability Research Network explored how equity-oriented resilience planning in Greater Miami and the Beaches challenged and reinforced racially exclusionary urban governance practices. See:
Grove, K., Cox, S. and Barnett, A. 2020. Racializing Resilience: Assemblage, Critique and Contested Futures in Greater Miami Resilience Planning. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 110(5): 1613-1630.
State-Science Relations in Everglades Restoration
As Co-PI of the Florida Coastal Everglades – Long Term Ecological Research network’s fourth renewal (2020-2024), my work on Everglades restoration is exploring the turbulent history of state-science-society relations in South Florida environmental management. Everglades restoration was an important site of transdisciplinary research during the 1960s-2000s (and continues to be to this day): several foundational texts on ecological resilience theory draw heavily on scientists’ experience conducting research on Everglades ecosystem and engaging in debates over the scope and scale of restoration. Our research is examining how new ways of knowing and governing nature in the Anthropocene have emerged out of the unique institutional and political context of Florida environmental politics. See:
Wakefield, S. Chandler, D., and Grove, K. 2021. The asymmetrical anthropocene: resilience and the limits of posthumanism. cultural geographies Article available online first: https://doi.org/10.1177/14744740211029278
Health System Resilience in Post-Maria Puerto Rico
As co-investigator on three National Institute of Health-funded research projects, affiliated with FIU’s REACH Resaerch Network on Health & Society in Latin America, my research on health system resilience in post-Maria Puerto Rico situates the country’s health system collapse after Hurricane Maria in the wider context of the slow emergency of colonial violence, dispossession, and disinvestment. This work is demonstrating how resilience, when taken up in the public health sector in a colonial context, can paradoxically narrow the scope of care. This is the case not only in terms of access to, and quality of health services, but also in relation to wider practices of care that create alternative forms of social relations not predicated on relations of coloniality. In this way, while resilience initiatives often promote citizen empowerment, in post-Maria Puerto Rico, resilience is instead further undermining capacities for self-determination, even as many Puerto Ricans are actively inventing new practices of care and sovereignty within and against ongoing US colonial rule. See:
Padilla, M. et al. 2021. Red Tape, Slow Emergency, and Chronic Disease Management in Post-María Puerto Rico. Critical Public Health. Article online first: https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2021.1998376
Rodriguez-Madera, S. et al. 2021. The Impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico’s Health System: Post-Disaster Perceptions and Experiences of Health Care Providers and Administrators. Global Health Research & Policy 6: 44.
Resilience Theory, Design Theory, and Geographic Thought
Uniting all of these research projects is my overarching concern with the challenges and opportunities resilience thinking poses to established forms of practical and critical reasoning in academic geography and allied disciplines. My concern here is to situate the emergence and growing influence of resilience thinking in its wider social, political economic, and cultural context. This positions resilience as an outgrowth of the ongoing influence of cybernetic techniques and designerly sensibilities on both scientific practice and, more broadly, everyday life in Anglo-American contexts. This work suggests that resilience is not reducible in the final instance to neoliberal environmental governance, but instead sits at the leading edge of political economic transformations that geographers are only beginning to develop the techniques and vocabulary to engage with. See:
Grove, K. and Rickards, L. 2022. Contextualizing narratives of geography’s past, present, and future: Synthesis, difference, and cybernetic control. Environment and Planning F. Article online first: https://doi.org/10.1177/26349825221082166.
Areas of Expertise
Resilience, vulnerability, adaptation, environmental security, development, geopolitics, Caribbean political economy, urban political ecology
PhD: The Ohio State University (Geography, 2011)
MA: The Ohio State University (Geography, 2005)
BA (honors): University of Cincinnati (International Affairs, 2003)