Productive Urban Landscapes: Everyday Rhythms Surrounding Sites of Urban Agriculture in Havana, Cuba
Citation —
Fitzgerald, Susan. 2020. ‘Productive Urban Landscapes: Everyday Rhythms Surrounding Sites of Urban Agriculture in Havana, Cuba’, PhD, UCL.
Description —
Sites of urban food production in Havana, Cuba are an adaptable land resource for supporting food sovereignty and access to green medicine. These sites are also part of everyday urban complexity that involves the social, economic, and ecological. Hard to describe when viewed from above it is important to get close to these sites to understand how they are made and re-made and whether there are lessons to be found within them for this transitioning city.
Henri Lefebvre made the powerful supposition that cultures dynamically produce space over time, which in turn shapes society. He started to develop rhythmanalysis as a tool to understand this relationship. Rhythmanalysis captures the everyday, heterogeneous, and evolving urban narratives of a city, making it an important tool for interrogating these sites to challenge how they could be (re)imagined within a transitioning Havana. Focusing on cultivation sites in different urban contexts this thesis studies how social, economic, and ecological rhythms entwine over time to create the oeuvre of everyday life. It focuses on beats particular to Havana: the quotidian, the seasonal, the slow decay of infrastructure, the collapse of buildings, and the resourcefulness of invention; and it documents the ways in which the urban everyday is continually reproduced and important to this city.
Since 2011, reforms have been made by the government to expand self-employment and to incrementally move Cuba towards a freer market economy. Capturing this period of transition (2012-2019), rhythmanalysis is used to listen, while drawing and mapping are used to record, as both analytical and illustrative tools, the evolving socio-spatial practices of these sites of urban agriculture. These studies of rhythms develop into architectural propositions to intercede in the everyday, not to change life but to accomplish a tiny revolutionary transformation in the city.
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