Publications

2020
Andriesse, E., Kittitornkool, J., Saguin, K., & Kongkaew, C. (2020). Can fishing communities escape marginalisation? Comparing overfishing, environmental pressures and adaptation in Thailand and the Philippines. Asia Pacific Viewpoint. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this article, we compare four fishing‐based areas in Thailand and the Philippines to examine if and how small‐scale fishing communities are able to escape marginalisation. Three questions guide our inquiry: (i) How have fishing communities been affected by overfishing, climate change and other pressures? (ii) What adaptive strategies have these communities employed to mitigate socio‐economic and environmental challenges? (iii) What has been the impact of these strategies on (escaping) marginalisation? Through a survey of 393 fishing‐based households and semi‐structured interviews with 59 key informants we find an uneven mixture of drivers, strategies and impacts. Respondents varyingly attribute declining fish catch to illegal fishing, overfishing, population increase, climate change and pollution. The case studies illustrate various degrees of adaptive successes that result from integration of top‐down and bottom‐up initiatives, and availability and access to livelihood strategies. However, the impact of adaptive strategies on overcoming marginalisation remains meagre and constrained by, among others, the power of illegal and commercial fishing and the absence of integrated spatial planning. We call for policy interventions and further research that takes into account the integration of top‐down and bottom‐up institutions, and the multiple dimensions and spaces of the drivers that shape fisherfolk marginalisation.
Saguin, K. (2020). Cultivating beneficiary citizenship in urban community gardens in Metro Manila . Urban Studies. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper introduces ‘beneficiary citizenship’ as a way to understand a form of urban citizenship that has emerged from shifts in state–citizen relations. Through the case of state-initiated urban community gardens in Metro Manila, it examines beneficiary citizenship as conditionally granting urban dwellers welfare, entitlements or recognition in the city in return for their transformation into good, responsible citizens. Beneficiary citizenship captures the dual forces of neoliberal technologies of government and alternative citizenship claims that are simultaneously present in various participatory and community-centred state projects. Case study gardens established in a resettlement housing project, in a poverty reduction programme and in a gated village in Metro Manila all seek to cultivate good citizen traits deemed worthy of being granted recognition in the city through a transformation of self and the community. Yet, beneficiaries in these projects also use their good gardener/citizen subjectivity to mobilise ends different from those intended by garden projects as technologies of government. Community gardens therefore become spaces where urban dwellers articulate citizenship by combining various strategies granted by their participation in the projects, exceeding attempts to order and contain urban life.
saguin_2020_beneficiary_citizenship_gardens.pdf
2019
Saguin, K. (2019). Urban metabolism. In Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies . Wiley-Blackwell. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Urban metabolism refers to the socioecological exchange processes and transformations in cities. Different fields deploy the concept in various ways, rooted in nineteenth‐century work in biology and Marxist theory. Using urban metabolism as a metaphor, a research paradigm, or a methodological tool, studies have ranged from industrial ecological accounting of material energy flows in cities to a focus on the historical production of socionatures in urban political ecology. The multiple meanings and broad scope of metabolism have initiated debates on the usefulness of the concept but have also created spaces for interdisciplinary dialogues that integrate methods and approaches in understanding urban environmental change.
saguin_2019_urban_metabolism.pdf
Saguin, K. (2019). “Return the Lake to the People”: Populist Political Rhetoric and the Fate of a Resource Frontier in the Philippines. Annals of the American Association of Geographers , 109 (2), 434-442. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this article, I examine the shifting political ecologies of governance of Laguna Lake, Philippines, in the context of historical and contemporary populist political rhetoric. Rodrigo Duterte, who was elected president in 2016 through a platform of change, brought national attention again to the lake by promising to give it back to the people marginalized by decades-long elite capture. This populist rhetoric is the latest in attempts to manage an urban resource frontier with conflicting demands and uses. By narrating a history of governance of Laguna Lake, I trace parallels between current and past strategies of addressing resource conflicts: from Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule in the 1970s and 1980s and the pluralist modes that followed to Duterte’s law-and-order vision of development. By comparing the populist narratives of Marcos and Duterte, I demonstrate that populist rhetoric in authoritarian forms entails the contradictory processes of politicization of the problem and depoliticization of solutions. Authoritarian populist narratives transform the framing of environmental problems through antagonistic politics even as solutions are constrained within existing depoliticized technologies of government that limit the spaces of contestations. Key Words: authoritarian, Duterte, Laguna Lake, Marcos, populism.
saguin_2019_populist_rhetoric_laguna_lake.pdf
2018
Saguin, K. (2018). Political ecologies of urbanizing natures in Southeast Asia. In Routledge Handbook of Urbanization in Southeast Asia . Routledge. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This chapter explores how urban political ecological approaches to nature-society relations can illuminate understandings of dynamic urbanization in Southeast Asia. It argues that environmental issues and challenges of the 21st-century city can be enriched through a serious engagement with urban political ecology themes, concepts and perspectives. The chapter provides a survey of the key themes and metaphors of urban political ecology and discusses two theoretical interventions where case studies of cities in Southeast Asia may provide empirical contributions. It provides empirical discussions of two moments in the urbanization of nature – everyday city-making and urban resource frontier production – to illustrate analytical merits of urban political ecological thinking using the Philippine case study of Metro Manila and nearby Laguna Lake. The chapter also explores urban political ecology approaches to examine the urbanization of nature in Metro Manila, a Southeast Asian megacity of more than 12 million people.
Saguin, K. (2018). Mapping access to urban value chains of aquaculture in Laguna Lake, Philippines. Aquaculture , 493, 424-435. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Urbanization has become a significant driver of aquaculture in the rapidly expanding cities of the global South. Using a case study of Laguna Lake and Metro Manila in the Philippines, this paper disaggregates the urban as a driver of aquaculture, and examines the social relations that structure urban-oriented aquaculture. It integrates access analysis with the value chain heuristic to identify how urbanization shapes domestic aquaculture value chains, and to map access mechanisms for firms and actors engaged in these chains. Macro-level urban processes drive aquaculture in at least four ways: as a source of demand for fish, as a source of input and capital flows, as a set of activities that transforms sites of aquaculture production, and as a sociocultural discourse. Micro-level mapping of access in the urban value chains shows a multitude of actors who derive benefits that range from direct participation in fish production and exchange to the indirect consumption benefits associated with lower-priced fish. Benefit and access mechanisms are unevenly distributed across the chain, and are configured and reinforced by social relations tied to place-based institutional contexts. Access analysis of urban value chains within the framework of urban drivers presents a means to evaluate the sustainability, poverty alleviation and development goals of aquaculture amid increasing urbanization.
2017
Saguin, K. (2017). Producing an urban hazardscape beyond the city. Environment and Planning A. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Urban socioecological risk, like other urban metabolic processes, embodies relations between the city and the non-city. In this paper, I trace the production of urban risk within and beyond the city through the lens of the hazardscape using the case of Metro Manila and Laguna Lake in the Philippines. Building on recent interventions in urban political ecology that seek to map the terrains of extending urban frontiers, I examine the processes that construct city and non-city spaces in urbanization through flood control. I synthesize narratives of the material-discursive production of risk mediated by infrastructure with histories of landscape and livelihood change in an urban socioecological frontier to make two related arguments. First, discursive constructions of city and non-city and the material flows that connect them shape the production of urban ecological risk, with material consequences for non-city vulnerabilities. Second, infrastructure plays an important mediating role in the production of hazardscapes. The intersection of flows of water, discursive urban imaginaries in state plans, and livelihoods in Metro Manila and Laguna Lake exemplifies metabolic relations that reveal the spatio-temporal connections of cities with landscapes that make their functioning possible.
Saguin, K. K., Chanco, C. J., Tan, A. I., & Ortega, A. A. (2017). Reclaiming social equity in land use planning for sustainable cities. Public Policy , 18, 99-126. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rapid growth of Philippine cities has brought a host of problems and challenges, including sprawl, environmental degradation, unemployment, lack of adequate housing, increased vulnerability to hazards, and an overall decline in the quality of life of urban residents. As Mega Manila expands, its peri-urban fringes face the pressure of conversion to urban land uses, while core urban areas grapple with various urban issues on zoning and land use change. Given these issues, land use plans and policies serve as important sites of intervention in moving toward urban sustainability. Beyond issues of enforcement on the ground, this paper argues for the need to examine, evaluate, and refine the guiding framework for land use planning. We propose three ways of approaching urban land use planning and policy based on a review of relevant documents and field research in two case study sites. First, we emphasize the need to broaden sustainability as a guiding framework for land use planning by emphasizing social equity and justice as a crucial component of sustainable development. Considering these may promote community interests that do not necessarily fit within an economic growth or ecological integrity imperative. Second, we advocate building on efforts to improve community participation in land use planning. Our field accounts suggest opportunities for further participation of communities in crafting land use plans and related projects. Third, we suggest including other spatial approaches and imaginaries practiced by local communities in everyday life. We identify the merits of a deeper engagement with communities and use the example of community mapping as a tool for planning land use. Increasing community participation and incorporating other planning methods will contribute to better realizing social equity in planning for just sustainability in cities.
saguin_etal_2017_equity_land_use.pdf
2016
Saguin, K. K. (2016). States of Hazard: Aquaculture and Narratives of Typhoon and Floods in Laguna de Bay. Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints , 64 (3-4), 527-554. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Aquaculture, a modern scheme introduced by the Philippine state to improve fish production and livelihoods, has resulted in contradictory outcomes in its four-decade history in Laguna de Bay. This article examines the fate and trajectories of these modern schemes through the lens of hazards. It situates the place of typhoons and floods in the introduction and regulation of pen aquaculture technology, and in the practices of living with hazards among aquaculture producers in the lake. In both cases hazards are considered as intrinsic to their narratives rather than as external forces that occasionally disrupt human plans.
Saguin, K. (2016). Blue Revolution in a Commodity Frontier: Ecologies of Aquaculture and Agrarian Change in Laguna Lake, Philippines. Journal of Agrarian Change , 15 (4), 571-593. Link to ArticleAbstract
Aquaculture presents a radically different way of producing fish that aims to transcend the limitations of capture fisheries but that in turn creates new forms of agrarian and ecological transformations. Using the case of Laguna Lake, the paper probes how aquaculture production and corresponding agrarian transformations are inextricably tied to dynamics in capture fisheries in multiple ways. It emphasizes the fundamentally ecological nature of the relations between aquaculture and capture fisheries through a discussion of three interrelated features of agrarian change: commodity widening through the production of a commodity frontier, aquaculture producer strategies of working with materiality of biophysical nature, and the attendant consequences of these processes for agrarian configurations. By examining the appropriation of nature in commodity frontiers and situating relations between aquaculture and capture fisheries as historical-geographical moments in commodity widening and deepening, the paper highlights the centrality of nature in agrarian change.
2014
Saguin, K. (2014). Biographies of fish for the city: Urban metabolism of Laguna Lake aquaculture. Geoforum , 54, 28-38. Link to Full TextAbstract
This paper examines the complexities of producing fish for the city and substituting wild with farmed fish. Using the urban metabolism framework and commodity biographies approach, it takes the case of peri-urban aquaculture in Laguna Lake, Philippines and focuses on the metabolic transformations of bighead carp, an introduced lake fish primarily consumed in nearby Metro Manila. Increased lake production of cheap fish like bighead carp did not immediately result in greater urban consumption, which remained limited owing to consumer unfamiliarity and the material characteristics of the fish tied to its production in the lake. By following the fish, the paper tells the story of how bighead carp has been and is being made amenable for urban consumption in Metro Manila’s wet markets, kitchens and fish processing sites. It discusses the material practices associated with the transformation of fish in their displacement through the metaphors of distancing, entanglement, frictions and flows. It argues that particular relations between fish and the aquatic environment materially produce fish that is in turn metabolized in the city through everyday practices that reconstitute fish commodities. These practices show that despite the production of more cheap fish, the substitution of capture fisheries by aquaculture is a messy process that reflects metabolic contradictions that fish materially embody and that have material effects on fish production and consumption.