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Everybody Loves Trees: Policing American Cities Through Street Trees

Irus Braverman

SUNY Buffalo Law School

January 6, 2009

Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, 2008
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-02

Recently, municipalities have been investing large sums of money as well as much bureaucratic and professional effort into making their cities not only a more "treefull" place, but also a place that surveys, measures, regulates, and manages its trees. This article explores the transformation of the utilitarian discourse on trees, which focuses on the benefits of trees and greenery, into a normative discourse whereby trees are not only considered good but are also represented as if they are or should be loved by everybody. This transformation is not only the result of top-down governmental policies. It is also a consequence of longstanding romantic views of nature in the city - especially in the American city - facilitated by environmental organizations, local communities, and individual activists. Importantly, the attribution of morality to tree practices masks the clandestine project of governing the urban population and the control of city crime in particular.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: environmental law, law and nature, Law and Society, Legal Geography, Criminology, Legal Anthropology, governance through crime, policing city trees

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Date posted: January 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Braverman, Irus, Everybody Loves Trees: Policing American Cities Through Street Trees (January 6, 2009). Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, 2008; Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-02. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1323809

Contact Information

Irus Braverman (Contact Author)
SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )
625 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-3030 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~irusb/
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