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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Chicago is the second city -- after Milwaukee in segregation. In the low-income, primarily black neighborhoods on the South Side of the city, community gardens are a spatial break with and grassroots activism against the grim landscape of economic, structural, and physical violence. But what is the gardens’ social valence when they seem unable to countervail the ongoing history of marginalization by race and socioeconomic status? Drawing on affect theory, I illustrate how the slow and uneventful healing of personal tragedies in Chicago’s community gardens is quiet, nascent resistance against neoliberal, post-racial injustices. In a society where the relationship between humans and nature has been heavily mediated by lopsided production and accumulation of capital, lives matter only if they fall neatly into the system of consumption and possession. Such mindset percolates through the space one inhabits and the experience in the space. A gardener’s intimate interaction with nature circumvents capital’s mediation between humans and nature and resurrects the lifeways that enable oneself, others, and the environment to coexist.

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