The politics of self-organisation and the social production of space in urban community gardens

  • Christopher Yap

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Urban community gardens have been characterised as important sites of struggle for urban public space, where radical democratic processes and community-self organisation can emerge and flourish. This thesis contributes to the body of critical literature that examines the social and political potentials of urban agriculture and urban community gardens. Specifically, this research project draws on the idea of the right to the city, first proposed by Henri Lefebvre, to examine how processes of community self-organisation, collective learning, and community narrative creation at the level of the garden relate to social, economic, and political processes at the city-level.

    This research draws on two processes of participatory video-making, qualitative interviews, ethnography, auto-ethnography conducted in Seville in the south of Spain between 2015-17. The research project comprised two distinct cycles. The first cycle focuses on two contrasting urban community gardens: Huerto del Rey Moro and Miraflores Sur. The second cycle focuses on a collective of urban gardeners, La Boldina, which emerged from Huerto del Rey Moro in 2017 and now works in sites across the city.

    This research finds that some urban community gardens in Seville represent specific concentrations of transformative social and political potential, and that Lefebvre’s spatial ontology, which underpins the right to the city, enables us to better characterise the dialectical relationship between the social dynamics within the gardens and their material development. Furthermore, this thesis demonstrates how the processes and approaches developed within urban community gardens can have significant impacts at the city-level.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorMichel Pimbert (Supervisor) & Colin Anderson (Supervisor)

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