Urban Agriculture from the Top Down in a Disaster-Prone Metropolis: The case of Mexico City

Authors: Julia Bausch*, Arizona State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Urban agriculture, peri-urban agriculture, Mexico, disasters, policy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban governments around the globe have embraced urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) as an instrument for redevelopment, and disaster mitigation and recovery. Some cities support UPA by removing barriers to its presence and practice, and aiding grassroots community initiatives, while others, like Mexico City, have implemented UPA initiatives from the top down. Over the last century of rapid urbanization, Mexico City has been in nearly constant crisis due to water shortages, flooding, and severely uneven economic development. UPA is among the more recent strategies the City has adopted to combat these and other challenges. Yet, UPA is not new to Mexico City; it has been practiced there for centuries. This calls attention to the fact that urban governments do not just facilitate or hinder UPA; they also benefit from its presence in ways potentially different from UPA practitioners, which likely affects how they manage UPA, and which activities and actors they support. Drawing from interviews conducted between 2013 and 2017 with government functionaries, community organizers, and diverse UPA practitioners, as well as policy analysis, this presentation will contrast the roles that UPA plays for the urban government and UPA practitioners in Mexico City. It will also examine how the city government’s priorities have influenced the practice and development of UPA by and for different populations, thus shaping the scale, scope, sustainability, and function(s) of UPA in this dynamic context, including the extent to which UPA embodies neoliberalism or resistance to the status quo for different urban actors.

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