Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Corcoran M.;Kettle P.
Local Environment
Urban agriculture, civil interfaces and moving beyond difference: the experiences of plot holders in Dublin and Belfast
16 ()
Optional Fields
ethno-national division politics of place public space social class urban agriculture
© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Recent literature suggests that a “shared politics of place” attained through joint activities fosters social integration and provides people with a means to practise co-operation [Baumann, G., 1996. Contesting culture: discourses of identity in multi-ethnic London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Sanjek, R., 1998. The future of us all: race & neighbourhood policies in New York City. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press; Sennett, R., 2012. Together: the rituals, pleasures and politics of cooperation. UK: Penguin]. Such a “shared politics of place” is most likely to occur in the context of public space conceptualised broadly as “the setting for everyday spatial behaviour of individuals and communities, emphasizing ordinary activities of citizens” [Lownsbrough, H. and Beunderman, J., 2007. Equally spaced? Public space and interaction between diverse communities. London: Demos, p. 8]. Here we explore one element of such public space – urban agriculture sites – with a view to identifying the extent to which a “shared politics of place” can be created and nurtured among the cultivating citizenry. The paper draws on data collected on allotment gardening sites in two urban contexts: Dublin (Ireland) and Belfast (Northern Ireland) over the period 2009–2013. We demonstrate the centrality of allotment cultivation to the generation of solidarity, mutuality and trust among participating citizens. Individuals engaging in allotment gardening in both Dublin and Belfast create and sustain civil interfaces – dismantling barriers, exchanging knowledge, challenging stereotypes, generating empathy and getting on with the business of simply getting on with their lives. The modus operandi of allotment gardening is predicated on a willingness to disregard social and ethno-national categorisations while on site. This is not to deny that such differences exist and persist, but allotments offer a “space of potential” where those differences are, at least for a time, rendered less salient.
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