Everyday Communism in Urban Gardens in Cardiff, Wales

Authors: Owain Hanmer*, Cardiff University
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban gardens, commons, community gardening, commoning, everyday communism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 43
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban gardens are regularly framed in diverse ways—from commons or commoning (Engel-Di Mauro 2018), the right to the city (Purcell and Tyman 2015), and food justice (Tornaghi 2017). However, in recognising that the politics of urban gardens are never straightforward (McClintock 2014), this paper emphasises the importance of being attentive to the micro and everyday dynamics of the spaces. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork from 2019 in Cardiff, Wales—an ordinary city (Robinson 2006)—across 3 different urban gardening sites, each defined by diverse set of arrangements that define the basic functioning and reproduction of the spaces (from how they are governed and managed to the everyday social and practical relations). Focusing on the everyday and prosaic elements of these spaces in an attempt to understand their political and social implications, this paper utilises Graeber’s (2012) theory of ‘everyday communism’ to highlight the ways that the practices and ways-of-doing are less mundane than they might appear. Importantly, in what are largely accepted practices in the sites, these can question and undermine the embedded capitalist notion of the ‘self-interested’ or competitive nature of interaction, thus transcending the Hobbesian imaginary of human relations. Through exploring the range and dynamics of gifting, sharing, and forms of mutual aid and cooperation that exist within these sites, this paper suggests that these are deeply political processes that counter experiences of alienation and isolation in a neoliberal world.

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