Interstices of the city: a photovoice study of urban gardens in a Lisbon neighbourhood
(University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Ana Isabel Afonso (FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa CICS.NOVA)
Paper short abstract:
We present Photovoice research with an urban gardeners' association in Lisbon transforming "clandestine" urban garden spaces into an “agricultural park.” Photovoice allowed us to see how gardeners conceive of urban space as they make political claims to the right to the city.
Paper long abstract:
We present initial findings from our Photovoice and ethnographic research with an urban gardeners' association as it attempts to transform illicit, "clandestine" garden spaces into a municipally approved "urban agricultural park" in Alta de Lisboa on the edge of the metropolis. This coalition of Portuguese and immigrant gardeners is reclaiming land to grow vegetables and to re-grow "community" by forging shared experiences in the neighbourhood. We describe how we used Photovoice as a process for exploring residents' motivations in planting informal and community gardens on public land. What cultural values do they attach to these interstitial urban spaces and practices? How do these highly local spatial practices relate to the broader context of national crisis and austerity in Portugal and European states more broadly? The Photovoice approach allowed us to examine how gardeners use sensory, affective, and aesthetic characterizations of urban space to build new civic spaces and identities around gardening and to make political claims to the "right to the city."
Participatory visual and digital research in anthropology: engagement and innovation