Conference Paper

The Production of Contesting Space: Community Gardens and the Cultivation of Social Change

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Abstract

My aim in this paper is to demonstrate how urban community gardens constitute a form of social struggle that challenges the prevailing political, economic and cultural arrangements of the urban environment. Employing the theoretical framework of Henri Lefebvre, I contend that by means of their production as contesting spaces, community gardens construct alternative discourse and practices. Against the view, shared by radical critics such as ecosocialists, that dismisses the gardens as offering mere individualistic solutions to problematic aspects of urban life or as a matter of lifestyle, I suggest viewing the gardens as a grassroots social struggle aimed at changing the meaning of space in the eyes of its inhabitants. A discourse analysis of the public debate about community gardens was used as the primary methodology for this paper as well as personal interviews with gardeners.

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