Imagining Urban Gardening Space : An Ethnographic Study of Urban Gardening in Sweden

Abstract: Urban gardening is a phenomenon that increasingly occupies the limited space in cities. In discourse, urban gardening is constructed as a positive element and as something that can build a productive environment in urban areas. However, using urban space for gardening raises questions about the delimitations of public space. This thesis examines the boundaries for gardening practices in urban public space by mapping out the dominant descriptions of the phenomenon and then analyzing how some articulations make it possible for citizens to claim urban space for gardening. The study uses an ethnographic approach and the empirical material includes participant observations at an urban garden in Stockholm as well as articulations found in the media, interviews, and social media posts as well as participant observations at urban gardens, expos and seminars on urban gardening. The theoretical framework is informed by poststructuralist discourse theory, psychoanalysis and critical geography. The main results show that urban gardens renegotiate boundaries of property due to their semi-public character. Furthermore, affective bindings in the garden create a fantasy of an authentic relationship with nature, which gives force to the positive discourse of urban gardening and makes it possible for urban gardens to inhabit urban public space.

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