Accepted Paper:

Common ground: the struggle by the Manor Garden Allotment Society to hold the London (Olympic) Legacy Development Corporation to its planning promises  

Author:

Gillian Evans (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores what it means when gardeners down tools and try to resist what it means for the London Legacy Development Corporation to ‘grow a new piece of city’ in the East End of London?

Paper long abstract:

What does it mean when gardeners down tools and try to resist what it means for the London Legacy Development Corporation to 'grow a new piece of city' in the East End of London? How do they mobilize a communal sense of participation in the collective design of their future growing plots, and, at the same time, adapt to the new skills required to interact effectively with and resist the expertise of urban planners and state bureaucrats tasked with designing and delivering the new Olympic Park in post-Games legacy mode?

Inspired by Latour (2009), this paper 'follows the files' and analyses the documentation of the process of consultation and community planning involved in the relocation, or dislocation, to the Olympic Park, of the gardeners of the Manor Garden Allotment Society in the East End of London.

The paper traces the procedures through which the inalienable gift of the allotment land and the deeply emotive sense of sociality it has engendered, are transformed through the obfuscation of planning expertise, into an 'objective' technical decision, (at a planning application meeting in February 2014) to deny the allotment holders what had been promised to them, which is a better world after the Olympic Games.

The paper contrasts outcomes for the two proposed allotment sites and suggests that the politics of collective design relies for its success not so much on mass mobilization, but on the cultivation of 'the right kind of social relations' with actors in a supposedly impartial and impermeable state bureaucracy.

Panel P050
Anthropologies of collective design experiments