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Title: Ethnicity, nature, and community gardens
Author: Racin, Liat
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the use and design of New York City (NYC)’s community gardens, and how the social processes that characterise community gardening influence gardeners’ notions of ethnicity. The study examines the dialectical relationship between nature and culture in community gardens from the theoretical perspectives of debates over ethnicity, the social construction of nature, and political ecology. The study’s analytical position directs attention to the rhetoric and behaviours of community gardeners as well as the socio-ecological and political-economic processes operating at broader and multiple scales. The three main aims of this dissertation are: first, to explore the influences of community gardening on how gardeners understand and express their ethnicity, second, to identify the main motivations for (re)configuring nature in gardens, and third, to understand how the elision between nature and culture in gardens shape and is shaped by societal power struggles. This dissertation draws empirically on a cross-case comparison of Puerto Rican gardeners across three community gardens in the South Bronx. Narrative and semi-structured interviews enabled gardeners to directly voice their sentiments of self and community, and in conjunction with active-participant observations and garden-related discourse analysis, the ‘triangulation’ of these qualitative research methods colours a rich picture of the ideological and political markers of ethnicity and nature in NYC. The study also incorporates state and non-state actors active in the community garden movement and in the provision of one or more of the case studies. I argue that community gardeners’ notions of ethnicity and nature are animated by questions of politics, resistance, class, and social positions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available