Growing Food and Building Power: Urban Agriculture in New York City
Keywords:Urban Agriculture, Activism
The early 20th-century Italian social theorist and revolutionary, Antonio Gramsci, argued that in struggling for socialism, the working class pursued two strategies. The crucial, decisive clash, the frontal attack between workers and the state, Gramsci characterized as the “war of maneuver.” In contrast, he characterized the “war of position” as struggles in civil society in which the working class organizes itself and works to gain power and influence.
In many ways, Kristin Reynolds’ and Nevin Cohen’s Beyond the Kale, an analysis of the grassroots urban farming and gardening movement in New York City, describes the movement as a “war of position.” Urban gardening, in the analysis of the authors and many of their informants, is not just about growing food, but also about defining and defying the deeper structures of oppression in a race- and class-based society, and about achieving environmental justice and liberation. While for many farms and gardens the point is simply to grow nutritional food, Reynolds and Cohen focus on the activists for whom growing food is a starting point to dismantle oppression “at its core” (p. 14). . . .
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