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Publication Detail
Farmers, not gardeners: The making of environmentally just spaces in Accra
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Allen AE, Frediani AA
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action
  • Status:
    In preparation
  • Country:
  • Keywords:
    urban agriculture, environmental justice, politics of recognition, urban global south, Accra, Ghana
Sites of urban agriculture are often contested urban open spaces, shaped by unequal power relations in the way they are conceived, perceived and lived. In the current dominant ideal of the ‘competitive’ and ‘global’ city, little recognition is given to the potential benefits of urban agriculture, beyond beautification, subsistence or therapeutic purposes. In this context, urban agriculture is often viewed as an activity performed by ‘gardeners’, either contributing to individual wellbeing or reducing the costs of maintenance of public spaces. A less ‘tolerant’ perspective perceives such ‘gardeners’ as squatters inhibiting cities’ productivity. By contrast, urban agriculture enthusiasts advocate the recognition of urban farmers and of the right to farm in the city as an essential condition for either food security or food sovereignty. Furthermore, we argue that urban agriculture can be interpreted as a means to claim, nurture and propagate alternative views on place and citizenship-making, defying the maldistributional and misrecognition factors that typically produce and reproduce unequal urban geographies. This paper deconstructs this notion vis-a-vis the multiple narratives that currently resist, tolerate or advocate a role for urban farmers in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA). Drawing from a four-year research collaboration between the Development Planning Unit (DPU) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the analysis examines the trajectories of female and male farmers working under different and fast changing land tenure systems across the Accra-Ashaiman corridor. Adopting an environmental justice perspective, the paper explores how and why urban agriculture might constitute a path for subaltern agents to actively claim spaces of daily sociability and political articulation within the city.
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