Ecosocial Challenges and Impacts of Urban Food Production: A Dialectical Ecology Perspective

Authors: Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro*, SUNY New Paltz
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: Dialectical Ecology, Dialectical Materialism, Urban Agriculture, Urban Gardening, Urban Ecosystems
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cultivation in cities involves wider biophysical processes and multiple kinds of social relations of power. Depending on place or conjuncture and scale, some processes are more influential than others. Social relations may be more determinative in urban areas, but they are dialectically related to physical forces (and the environments thereby produced) and the ecosystems of which they are a constituent part. Social relations are a constituent part of urban ecosystems, not the sole causal process. And since the biophysical is actually much wider than the social, the biophysicality of cities matters as well. Comparisons among several urban situations are brought to bear in illustrating the dialectical relationship between social relations and ecosystem processes. In sum, where food production contributes to ecological sustainability and is solidly in place or even an intimate part of how a city is culturally conceived, there is no clear attempt at political organising to bring about an end to social inequalities. Where cultivation is highly contingent institutionally and socially, and challenged by multiple and major biophysical challenges, including high levels of pollution, urban food production becomes a fulcrum of antagonism towards capitalist relations, whether explicitly expressed or tacitly practised by default by virtue of circumstances. Where urban food production has expanded and is the result of combined institutional and wider social initiatives, there exist much promise in building an egalitarian and ecologically sustainable postcapitalist future.

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