Farming as city-making: Peripheral politics of urban agriculture in Metro Manila

Authors: Kristian Karlo Saguin*, University of the Philippines
Topics: Urban Geography, Food Systems, Asia
Keywords: urban agriculture, community gardens, urban farming, peripheral urbanization, Manila, Philippines
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban agriculture activities have emerged in diverse forms and sites in Metro Manila: from informal farming in backyard plots and interstitial vacant lands to institutionalized community gardens. In this paper, I frame these activities as new modes of producing urban space that create new kinds of subjectivities, citizen-state relations and urban politics. Similar to autoconstruction in housing, many urban farming practices are characterized by bricolage, incrementalism and improvisation, their spaces always in the making through the everyday work of experimenting and making do amid shifting urban conditions and leftover contiguities at the periphery. Despite recent formalization and co-optation as state projects, urban farming continues to be precarious in its temporality - mutable, mobile and marginal - producing a patchwork of heterogeneous spaces, practices and imaginaries of the place of farming in the city. Drawing from interviews with urban farmers and gardeners, project coordinators and city officials from Metro Manila local government units, I examine the intersections of urban agriculture and the logics of peripheral urbanization through the urban farm. I demonstrate urban farming as a city-making practice where urban dwellers engage in multiple strategies of claiming and negotiating the peripheral politics of urban belonging and livability.

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