Kristian Saguin is Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines.
Research Interests: political ecology, urban political ecology, aquaculture and fisheries, urban studies, agrarian studies, urban agriculture, urban peripheries, resource geographies
My work cuts across various socioecological questions in urban, agrarian and environmental studies. My recently published book Urban Ecologies on the Edge: Making Manila's Resoure Frontier (2022, University of California Press) summarizes these intersecting themes by exploring urbanization as a frontier-making process that extends beyond the city. Set in the dense Philippine capital Manila and the resource-rich Laguna Lake that borders it, the book weaves together diverse ethnographic and historical accounts to tell socio-ecological stories of the politics and paradoxes of sustaining urban life across the city’s edge. Bringing together interdisciplinary approaches to the geographies of urban provisioning, I aim to highlight both the overt and overlooked spaces, practices and relations that constitute contested environmental change. The book was the recepient of the 2022 AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography.
Through a political ecology lens, I have been interested in understanding livelihoods, resource governance and everyday urban politics amid environmental change at the peri-urban interface in the Philippines. First, I have demonstrated the importance of ecological specificities, social relations and material practices in the trajectories of aquaculture development in the Philippines. I have established environmental, economic and cultural links between peri-urban aquaculture producers and urban consumers to show how ecological processes shape fisherfolk marginalization, coastal governance and vulnerability to hazards.
Second, my work on resource governance of peri-urban environmental change in Laguna Lake, Philippines demonstrate the specific ways that cities produce resource frontiers. I have engaged with urban metabolism by tracking and characterizing resource flows such as water, food and wastes that go into the city, the infrastructural relations that mediate them, and the corresponding socio-environmental transformation of urban resource frontiers. I have also sought to understand shifting environmental governance strategies of the Philippine state in resource frontiers by tracking the emergence of modern imaginaries of nature, forms of authoritarian populism and their spatial and ecological manifestations in the urban peripheries.
Third, my engagement with various communities in the peripheries of Metro Manila focused on the emerging forms of everyday politics, resistance and movements surrounding peri-urban environmental transformation. Documenting individual and collective responses to diverse state initiatives such as urban farming, flood control infrastructure and urban redevelopment projects, I have examined the complex roles and practices that people take to negotiate claims and citizenship in relation to the state and the city.
I am also currently working on several projects that explore various urban and environmental issues in and around Metro Manila, including smart urbanism, urban infrastructure and reclamation, density and wastes, and counter-mapping in the city.
PhD Geography (2013) Texas A&M University
MSc Geography (2008) University of the Philippines Diliman
BSc Geography (2003) University of the Philippines Diliman