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The Ideological Obstruction of the Self-Provisioning City

Thursday Lecture Series, Ambivalence

dateMarch 11, 2021 timeThursday, 12:30pm EST locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Person holding a wheelbarrow in a crop field in front of two buildings

Urban farming is an oxymoron. According to popular and scholarly understandings of urban history, cities increasingly become more urbanized, separated from the environmental resources and raw materials that support them. Cities as spaces for agricultural self-provisioning stand out as an ambiguous spike in urban history, despite the fact they are so common. City dwellers out of work or out of money grow their own food, scavenge materials to build structures on small patches of land. Most often, these municipalities—Detroit, Leningrad, Dar es Salaam, Havana—are taken as failed cities in failed polities; residents seen as not sufficiently urban, an object of pity. Unless, that is, urbanites choose to self-provision as a hobby, out of a political commitment or as charity, then they are exemplary citizens. Real estate values rise in a radiating circle around their gardens. Bi-polar views of urban self-provisioning point to the major challenge hardy root vegetables growing from cracked cement present to ideological systems. Whether capitalist or socialist, economic systems work toward disarming people from their means of existence. The longer the supply chains, the more successful the system.

Guest lecturer: Kate Brown, MIT
Professor of Science, Technology, & Society

Please note that registering for this event will sign you up for the entire Thursday Lecture Series for the Spring 2021 semester.

Organized by SOF Fellow Leah Aronowsky.

Talks in this series will be followed by discussion, including a Q&A session with the audience.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.