Carbon Present, Colonial Returns: Tracing Climate Colonialism Through Eucalyptus Biographies

Nida Rehman
Seminar, in English, online, 18 July 2022, 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm (EST)

As part of Toolkit for Today: Carbon Present seminar, Nida Rehman explores the spatial and material biographies of eucalyptus trees to read the intersections between colonial geographies of environmental improvement in British northern India, and contemporary (re)uses of arboreal boosterism under the banner of climate change mitigation in Pakistan today. She traces the enrollment of this fast-growing species within mass afforestation and carbon sequestration programs within a longer trajectory of valorization—of the eucalyptus as nonhuman infrastructure, commodity, and labour. Attending to the spatial trajectories, socio-ecological relationalities, and lively labours of this often intractable and liminal agent thus offers new situational perspectives to consider the colonial returns of the carbon present.

Nida Rehman is an Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. An urban geographer and architect, her work is concerned with the political ecologies, histories, and more-than-human making of a range of urban landscapes including gardens, water infrastructures, and mosquito breeding sites. Her recent publications include articles in Antipode, Planning Perspectives, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and a chapter in The Botanical City (Jovis 2020). At CMU she directs Spaces for Containment and Care, at the Center for Arts in Society, examining the social and spatial production of the built environment during epidemics. In 2019 she co-organized the Urban Studies Foundation funded international seminar series Urban Climates: Power, Development, and Environment in South Asia.

This event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.


Maan Barua, “Animating Capital: Work, Commodities, Circulation,” Progress in Human Geography 43, no. 4 (1 August 2019): 650–69.

Sarah Besky and Jonathan Padwe, “Placing Plants in Territory,” Environment and Society 7, no. 1 (1 September 2016): 9–28.

Nida Rehman, “Primary Materials: Reading Lahore’s Disobedient Landscape,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 40, no. 3 (1 December 2020): 565–83.


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