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
By bringing both rural and urban political ecology lenses to various sites in the Philippines, I am interested in understanding livelihoods, governance and politics amid environmental change at the peri-urban interface. My research work have aimed to contribute to debates in three particular areas: fisherfolk livelihoods, resource governance of peri-urban environmental change, and everyday urban environmental politics.
First, my research on aquaculture in the Philippines demonstrated the importance of ecological specificities, social relations and material practices in the trajectories of aquaculture development across space. I have been interested in establishing environmental, economic and cultural links between peri-urban aquaculture producers and urban consumers to show how ecological processes shape agrarian change and fisherfolk marginalization, and magnify their vulnerability to hazards.
Second, my work on resource governance of peri-urban environmental change in Laguna Lake, Philippines demonstrated the specific ways that cities produce resource frontiers. I have aimed to advance the concept of 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 been concerned with understanding the history of 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 periphery.
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 continue to examine the complex roles and practices that people take to negotiate claims and citizenship in relation to the state and the city.
My forthcoming book Urban Ecologies on the Edge: Making Manila's Resoure Frontier (2022, UC 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.
PhD Geography (2013) Texas A&M University
MSc Geography (2008) University of the Philippines
BSc Geography (2003) University of the Philippines