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Assembling urban agriculture

Authors: Kristian Saguin*, University of the Philippines
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Food Systems
Keywords: urban agriculture, community gardens, Manila, Philippines, assemblage, urban political ecology
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the work of bringing together technologies, materials, environments, knowledges and practices to produce urban agriculture as a particularly urban assemblage. Using accounts of household, community and institutional gardens in Metro Manila, it traces the emergence of distinct ideal of what farming should look like in the city at the expense of other urban agricultural forms. State initiatives have promoted space-saving vertical farms and technology-intensive techniques in terms of their ability to overcome the constraints of the urban environment and deliver on the promise of farming in the city. Yet beyond the discursive privileging of certain forms of urban agriculture, farming practices entangle with a diverse array of processes amid shifting socioecological relations centered around the garden. Urban migrants’ prior knowledge of rural farming encounter a different set of environmental conditions in the city, as farmers continue to experiment with novel techniques while (re)using diverse materials available in the city. Together, these material and discursive entanglements demonstrate the politics of urban agriculture as a distinctly urban practice, and illustrate the work of incrementally assembling the city.

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