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Relevancy and writing

July 26, 2011

I am trying to get motivated to write the 3rd of 3 articles slated for this summer. This really means I am trying to figure out what makes this 3rd article relevant (to anyone). Why would anyone, academic geographers included, care about a literature review on urban community gardens? The answer, I think, is that there are gaps in the literature. Scholars are writing about race and the food system, neoliberalism and alternative food systems, and about community gardens as spaces promoting neoliberal subjectivity (a few). Yet, the majority of community garden literature (I dare say, all of it) fails to address the intersections of political economic context and activism. There is also minimal discussion of the ways in which organizational context, or actor-networks, or socioeconomic difference, might affect the geography of garden development and success. I am moved by Newman and Lake (2006) and Perkins (2009, 2010), who describe the depoliticization of community development under neoliberalization and the limitations of volunteerism to alleviate systemic poverty/injustice/political marginalization. I hope to integrate these ideas with the literature on community gardens to conceptualize how community gardens are a particular kind of space that simultaneously challenges and is challenged by broader political economic context. I want to argue against the idea that community gardens automatically empower citizens or eradicate socioeconomic inequities. Now, to write that in a way that will speak to academics!

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