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Accepted Paper:

The avant garde or the left behind – first allotment gardeners in Nowa Huta  
Katarzyna Łatała (University of Warsaw, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Based on my fieldwork in allotment gardens in Nowa Huta, I will reflect on the consequences of treating working class, poor and elderly people as underprivileged, underrepresented, left behind. I will show how their culture could be the avant garde of climate change resilience.

Paper long abstract:

Nowa Huta is a district of Kraków which was originally planned as a model, socialist, working-class town. I have conducted one year of fieldwork with the first, eldest allotment gardeners and retired steelworkers there.

Firstly, I would like to question the assumption that post-socialist, working-class neighbourhoods are degrading. The culture of allotment gardens in Nowa Huta is progressively changing but continuously thriving.

Secondly, I would like to reflect on the consequences of treating working class, poor and elderly people as underprivileged, underrepresented, left behind. It often leads to treating them with pity and paternalism. By seeing them only as victims and they’re culture as an outcome of violence – we devaluate them. At the same time, we reinforce the hegemony of bourgeois culture and society. And, leave the working class, poor and elderly people behind.

Thirdly, I would like to reflect on an ideal of a diverse society which equally includes different groups and their cultures, also the ones presently left behind. To bring it closer, we would have to learn to, on the one hand recognise the hardships and violence which they experience, and on the other affirm their very different culture.

Fourthly, I would like to suppose that maybe it is not the left behind who need the bourgeois culture and society but the other way around. I will describe the radically resourceful, self-sufficient, sustainable and resilient culture and ethics of allotment gardeners from which we could learn as we face climate change.

Panel P047
Living, leaving and undoing ‘left behindness’
  Session 2