Skip to content

Henrik Ernstson

  • PhD
  • Lecturer in Human Geography (part-time)
  • The University of Manchester, Department of Geography
  • 16h-indexImpact measure calculated using publication and citation counts. Updated daily.
  • 1508CitationsNumber of citations received by Henrik's publications. Updated daily.

Other IDs

Research interests

Comparative UrbanismAfrican urbanismCritical GeographyCultural GeographyUrban Political EcologySocial MovementsUrban Ecology


Dr. Henrik Ernstson is developing a situated approach to urban political ecology. This is based on a core interest to understand the inherently political and contested dimensions of urban ecology and urbanisation. He is currently a Research Fellow at KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory and an Honorary Visiting Scholar at the African Centre for Cities at University of Cape Town, South Africa. He recently concluded a PostDoc with Stanford University. His focus lies on Urban Political Ecology, but with an interdisciplinary background including a PhD in Systems Ecology (PhD, Stockholm University, 2008), MSc in Physics and Applied Mathematics (MSc, Linköping University, 1998), and BSc in Electrical Engineering (BSc, Jönköping University College, 1993). Recent publications include "Provincializing Urban Political Ecology" (2014) in Antipode (with M Lawhon and J Silver), "The Social Production of Ecosystem Services" (2014) in Landscape and Urban Planning, "Ecosystem Services as Technology of Globalization" (2013) in Ecological Economics (with S Sörlin), and "Food and green space in cities" (2013, with S Barthel and J Parker) in Urban Studies. He completed his PhD in 2008 and as of June 2014 he has published 24 peer-reviewed articles in top-academic journals, 20 since 2010. His core influences come from urban political ecology (UPE) with environmental history, comparative/postcolonial/African urbanism, poststructuralism with actor-network theory (ANT), sociology of social movements and collective action, natural resource management with non-equilibrium ecology, and social network analysis (SNA). He has been key in developing two broader lines of reserach, Situated Urban Political Ecologies that combines UPE with postcolonial urbanism (search SUPE and SituatedUPE), and network analysis of social-ecological studies (search NASEBERRY). Current research projects: 1) He is Principal Investigator (PI) for Ways of Knowing Urban Ecologies (WOK-UE) funded by Swedish Formas (2011-2015), which involves extensive in-depth case study research in Cape Town*, the documentary film project One Table Two Elephants (with J von Heland), the speculative design project Symbiotic Tactics (w M Ávila), and the international edited volume Grounding Urban Natures (with S Sörlin).** 2) He is Principal Investigator (PI) for the Socioecological Movements (MOVE)/Civil Society Network Study (CIVNET) funded by Formas (2012-2016), with qualitative-historical and quantitative-ecological and social network studies in Cape Town and New Orleans (w J Lewis et al.).*** 3) He is Principal Investigator (PI) for the Uganda-based project Heterogenous Infrastructures in Southern Cities funded by the Swedish Research Council VR (2016-2018/9) that includes regional workshops in Southern Africa. 4) Co-I together with Mary Lawhon (Florida State University), of the South African-focused project Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish: Political Ecology of Waste Management in South African Cities (TLR), lead by Erik Swyngedouw at the University of Manchester and funded by UK’s ESRC-DFID (2016-2018/9). 5) Co-PI with Edgar Pieterse in NOTRUC—Notations on Theories of Radical Urban Change with theoretical work and empirical studies in Cape Town (2015-2018). The latter three projects aims theoretically to weave together urban political ecology with global South urbanism and comparative urbanism and extend the range of urban experiences through which we can think about radical urban change and emancipatory politics. This goal aligns with the Situated Urban Political Ecologies Collective (#SituatedUPE) that Henrik Ernstson co-initiated with Mary Lawhon and Jonathan Silver in 2013. This is growing network that focuses on building critical urban scholarship, in particular in and of African and global South cities. Teaching His teaching stretches from urban ecology, urban political ecology, collective action and natural resource management (click Teaching & Supervision to the right). 1) Together with Colombian political philosopher Dr. Andrés Henao Castro, he organises and develops the annual ACC PhD Course/Seminar on Democratic Practices of Unequal Geographies organised every July at the University of Cape Town. 2) At KTH he has organized the PhD course Urban Ecology as Science Culture and Power together with Dr. Joshua Lewis. 3) With Mary Lawhon, Jonathan Silver and Joe Pierce in the Situated Urban Political Ecologies Collective (#SituatedUPE) he has co-organised workshops for PhD and Young Career Scholars in Pretoria and Johannesburg. 4) In the NOTRUC Project, he has arranged workshops around radical incrementalism and theories of urban radical change. Earlier he has also developed PhD courses in Network Analysis in Socioecological Studies (given in 2009, 2010, 2011) Supervision At KTH and ACC, and earlier at Stockholm University, he has supervised PhD, MSc, Bachelor and Honors students, and been main advisor on several postdoctoral projects (click Teaching & Supervision to the right). This has included projects in: urban political ecology, cultural geography, contested ways of knowing urban landscapes and ecologies, collective action, social movements, ecology and urban environmental history, water and natural resource management/governance with social network analysis, systems ecology and network analysis. More information For more information visit Situated Ecologies (, which includes links the Situated Urban Political Ecologies Collective (#SituatedUPE). Follow his blog In Rhizomia ( and twitter @rhizomia (check out hash tag #SUPE, #SituatedUPE)). Apart from his interdisciplinary background, he has also worked as Theatre Producer in Stockholm with several productions, including the translation and production of plays from Buenos Aires. === *) In the WOK-UEproject, Marnie Graham has developed a postcolonial lens on nature conservation, Jane Battersby critical perspectives on urban farming and food security, and Henrik Ernstson critical perspectives on the performativity of cartesian-based biodiversity and ecosystem services frameworks. **) The volume Grounding Urban Natures (with S Sörlin) contains environmental historical and critical studies from non-Western cities, including Lagos (Nigeria), Delhi (India), Dalian and Yixing (China); Cape Town (South Africa) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); but also from ‘old world’ cities like Berlin (Germany), San Francisco and New Orleans (USA). ***) The MOVE projects contains several projects, for instance, Joshua Lewis has developed a historical-critical studies of the politics of water infrastructures in coastal Louisiana, Pippin Anderson an ecological study across rich to poor areas in Cape Town, and with Mario Diani and Lorien Jasny Henrik Ernstson has interviewed over 129 civil society organizations in a social mobilization study (using SNA).

Co-authors (52)

Publications (5)

  • “Right to the City” and the structure of civic organizational fields: Evidence from Cape Town

    • Diani M
    • Ernstson H
    • Jasny L
  • Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene: Immuno-biopolitics and Depoliticizing Ontologies in the Anthropocene

    • Swyngedouw E
    • Ernstson H
    Get full text
  • One Table Two Elephants

    • von Heland J
    • Ernstson H
  • Of Plants, High Lines and Horses: Civic Groups and Designers in the Relational Articulation of Values of Urban Natures

    • Erixon Aalto H
    • Ernstson H
    Get full text
  • The dynamics of social-ecological systems in urban landscapes: Stockholm and the National Urban Park, Sweden

    • Elmqvist T
    • Colding J
    • Barthel S
    • et al.
    Get full text


Ambio - A Journal of the Human Environment

Editor (focus on Urban Environment)

2011 - 2013(2 years)

Professional experience

Lecturer in Human Geography (part-time)

The University of Manchester, Department of Geography

August 2017 - Present

Research Fellow

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of History of Science and Technology

October 2013 - Present

Honorary Visiting Scholar & Principal Investigator

University of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities

August 2011 - Present

Stig Hagström Postdoctoral Scholar

Stanford University, Department of History

August 2013 - August 2015(2 years)

Research Fellow & Principal Investigator

Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre

August 2011 - September 2013(2 years)

Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities

August 2010 - July 2011(a year)

Research Fellow

Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre

October 2008 - July 2010(2 years)


PhD in Systems Ecology & Natural Resource Management

Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University

April 2004 - September 2008(4 years)

MSc in Applied Physics & Electrical Engineering

Linköping University

August 1993 - June 1998(5 years)

Bachelor in Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications

Jönköping Universiy

August 1991 - June 1993(2 years)