Anne Bach Nielsen defends her PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science

Anne Bach NielsenCandidate

Anne Bach Nielsen


"Translating the Transnational. A Tale of Three Cities and Their Quest for Urban Resilience".

The thesis is available as an e-book via Academic books.

Time and venue

Monday 8 June 2020 at 14:00
Link to attend the PhD defence
Password: 567964

Please note, the defence will be held in Zoom and will be recorded.
The recording will be publicly available through our website.

Assessment committee

  • Associate Professor Olaf Corry, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (chair)
  • Professor Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University
  • Professor Osmany Porto de Oliveira, Universidade Federal de Sâo Paulo


Cities are increasingly recognised for their will to act on global environmental challenges. What the academic literature has largely overlooked is that cities collaborate transnationally in networks to deal with these issues. While existing research provides us with insights into why cities choose to participate in such transnational networks, we have limited knowledge about how cities use transnational arenas to mobilise action on the ground. In this dissertation, I examine this question by focusing on how cities organise their transnational network commitments and, more importantly, how they translate transnational ideas into local resilience initiatives. Empirically, the dissertation takes its departure from political ethnographic fieldwork conducted across three different cities, Vejle, Chennai and Porto Alegre, all of which are members of the same transnational municipal network, 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). It concludes that policy ideas change significantly on their journey from the transnational arena to their implementation in the city and points to two defining characteristics of transnational municipal networking. First, transnational engagement is hybrid and goes far beyond the work of municipal actors. Few public employees and politicians continuously partake in transnational activities while a large number of stakeholders from both inside and outside the city come to define the process and outcome of transnational translation processes. Second, TMN engagement is essentially multiple and creates an opportunity for cities to engage with broad resilience agendas while staying true to their local political landscapes. Transnational networking thus allows different urban actors with various contextual constraints to share similar visions on how to act on a changing world. Finally, the dissertation points to five concrete practices of transnationalisation by which cities alter local resilience initiatives through engagement in transnational municipal networks. Consequently, the dissertation taps into broader and more general debates about the role of cities in global environmental governance.