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Personal profile



Chiara is a critical human geographer and scholar-activist, with a background in politics, sociology and planning. After graduating in Political Science (2001, State University of Milan), she obtained her PhD in Applied Sociology and Social Research Methods (2005, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy), and a Postgraduate Certificate in European Spatial Planning (2006, University of Newcastle, UK). She has been a lecturer and researcher at the Cities and Social Justice Research Cluster, in the School of Geography, University of Leeds (2008-2015); City of Vienna Visiting Junior Professor at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR), TU Vienna (2009); and Teaching Fellow at the Faculty of Sociology, University of Milano-Bicocca (2005-2008) and the Faculty of Architecture and Society, Politecnico of Milan (2008-09). She is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Critical Geography Group and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), where she is affiliated to the Food Geographies working group. Since 2006 she has been involved in a number of EU FP research programmes, and between 2013 ans 2016 she has co-chaired Working Group 5 (‘Urban agriculture metabolism’) within the EU funded COST Action “Urban Agriculture Europe”. As scholar-activist and engaged citizen she has been involved in and/or has helped establishing a number of food sovereignty/food policy initiatives, such as the Leeds based Edible Public Space, Tinwolf-LandShare, Leeds Urban Harvest and Public Healing Garden among others, and she is a member of the Reclaim the Fields pan-European constellation. Recent key publications are: Tornaghi C. (2014), Critical Geography of Urban Agriculture, in Progress in Human Geography, 38 (4), 551–567 and contributions to a special issue on Political Gardening as co-editor (with Chiara Certomà) and as co-author (with Barbara Van Dyck).


Area of Expertise:


Urban agriculture, food justice and sovereignty, insurgent/grassroots planning, social production of public space, urban metabolism, participatory action-research

Research Interests

Scholar-activism; Political ecology; Politics of space; Grassroots pedagogy; Resource sovereignty; Alternative urbanism; Re-building the Commons; Socio-environmental justice

Vision Statement

Cities have historically been places where proximity, cultural diversity and mutual exchange have brought opportunities for social innovation and emancipation. However, the urban condition has also progressively become associated to unsustainable consumption practices, the greatest historical disconnection from the food system, and ongoing exploitation of humans and natural resources. This is locking both, urbanites and farmers elsewhere, into a pervasive dependency from a socio-ecologically unjust food system. My research aims to contribute to building an alternative urbanism inspired by the principles of agroecology, resource sovereignty and global justice. To this end my work revolves around political ecology, grassroots pedagogy, insurgent planning, urban commons, and food sovereignty and justice movements. As a scholar-activist I aim to support communities to develop alternative urban agro-ecological environments.

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Research Output

Critical geography of urban agriculture

Tornaghi, C., 1 Aug 2014, In : Progress in Human Geography. 38, 4, p. 551-567

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 133 Citations (Scopus)
    38 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 8 Citations (Scopus)
    88 Downloads (Pure)

    Political gardening. Transforming cities and political agency

    Certoma, C. & Tornaghi, C., 4 Sep 2015, In : Local Environment. 20, 10, p. 1123-1131 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

    Open Access
  • 25 Citations (Scopus)
    127 Downloads (Pure)

    Urban Agriculture in the food-disabling city: (Re)defining urban food justice, reimagining a politics of empowerment

    Tornaghi, C., 8 Nov 2016, In : Antipode. 49, 3, p. 781-801 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 33 Citations (Scopus)
    40 Downloads (Pure)

    From Agriculture in the City to an Agroecological Urbanism: The transformative pathway of urban (political) agroecology

    C.M. Deh-Tor (Chiara Tornaghi and Michiel Dehaene), 9 Nov 2017, Urban Agriculture Magazine, 33, p. 8-10 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    Open Access
  • Activities

    • 18 Participation in conference
    • 3 Membership of board
    • 2 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

    Global Soil Week 2017

    Chiara Tornaghi (Invited Speaker)
    22 May 201724 May 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    Creating Alternative Food Futures: Food Sovereignty in Ireland and Beyond

    Chiara Tornaghi (Keynote Speaker)
    13 Apr 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    Exploring the ordinary city

    Chiara Tornaghi (Invited Speaker)
    18 Jan 2016

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2016

    Chiara Tornaghi (Speaker)
    30 Aug 20162 Sep 2016

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference