Governing Certain Things: The Regulation of Street Trees in Four North American Cities

27 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2008

See all articles by Irus Braverman

Irus Braverman

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: November 25, 2008


Most sociolegal studies of the urban street focus on the human element. By focusing on the tree, my Article offers a unique perspective on the interrelations between various actors within the public spaces of modern North American cities. Situated at the intersection of legal geography, anthropology, and Science and Technology Studies, this Article demonstrates how natural artifacts function as technologies of governance, thereby masking crucial political interventions behind a natural facade. The tensions between nature and the city, as embedded in both the construction and the regulation of street trees, provide an unusual perspective on the management of urban populations and on the intricate relationship between law, space, and technology.

Keywords: Law and Geography, Law and Urban Planning, Law and Technology, Science and Technology Studies (S&TS), Law and Anthropology, Trees and the Urban Landscape, Thing Theory, Nature/Society Divide, Actor Network Theory, Human/Nonhuman relations, Governance through Nature

Suggested Citation

Braverman, Irus, Governing Certain Things: The Regulation of Street Trees in Four North American Cities (November 25, 2008). Tulane Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 22, 2008, Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-29, Available at SSRN:

Irus Braverman (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-3030 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)


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