Urban agriculture: models-in-circulation from a critical transnational perspective

Eva Schwab, Silvio Caputo, Jaime Hernandez Garcia

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Urban Agriculture (UA) is practiced around the globe (Biel, 2016), supported and advocated by a diversity of actors ranging from local neighbourhood groups to supra-national bodies (e.g. FAO, 2014; Mougeot, 2006; UN Habitat, 2014). As such, UA must be understood as one of planning’s current “models-in-circulation” (Roy and Ong, 2011), characterised by the traveling of ideas and policies in a globalised world (Healey, 2013). UA operates at a diversity of scales and engages a variety of actors. Yet, as a model-in-circulation, only some of the ways in which UA is practiced are promoted globally and influence the way UA is perceived, thus disregarding UA’s highly specific manifestations in different social/economic/political contexts around the world.

We use a critical transnational perspective for a qualitative analysis of collective (rather than individual) UA practices happening in small-scale, left-over public spaces in three very different locations in Latin America and Europe (Bogotá and Medellin in Colombia, and Vienna in Austria) to gain insights into how policies and initiatives inspired by typical models-in-circulation affect the situation on ground. The analysis shows that the reliance on such models can act like a filter impeding the acknowledgment that actors, objectives and barriers for UA practices are more complex, nuanced and multifaceted than those that a simple model can contain. As a result the benefits UA can yield are only partially attained. The conceptual device of translocal is subsequently formulated as one conveying the traveling of ideas locally, which can enrich and root models-in-circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date28 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • urban agriculture
  • community gardens
  • models-in-circulation
  • transnational
  • right-to-the-city
  • subsistence


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