Urban Agriculture and the Right to the City

Participatory video-making in Seville, Spain

Based at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, this research project explored how citizens produce, manage and reclaim urban space, access land, and transform urban food systems. Using participatory video making within a broader framework of participatory action research, the project also explored how urban community gardens contribute to the social and spatial reorganisation of cities. The project took place primarily in Seville, Spain.

The right to the city is the collective right of all urban inhabitants to produce, manage and govern urban centres. Since first appearing in the works of Henri Lefebvre, the concept has been substantially developed by different groups in terms of reclaiming public spaces, the production of urban space, and the politics of autogestion (self-management), amongst other issues.

Urban community gardens are contested and often contradictory spaces; spatially, politically and socially distinct from their urban contexts. Whilst much has been written about the radical potentials of urban agriculture, the reality is less clear. In Seville, people are growing food in different spaces, in different ways and for different reasons.

Through reflexive action research, the project drew on the idea of the right to the city, as well as the concept of food sovereignty, to explore the spatial and political significance of urban community gardens in Seville; looking not only at the micro-politics and micro-transformations within these spaces, but also the significance of the gardens in spatial and historical context. In Seville the project looked at the gardens in the context of current urban development processes, as well as historical agrarian transitions, and anarchist modes of self-organisation.

This project emerged through two processes of participatory video-making. Participatory video-making is a process that enables groups of people to tell their own stories in their own ways. The process involves teaching a small group to plan, shoot, edit and distribute a film about a theme or issue that is important to them. This process creates important spaces for critical engagement with complex and occasionally difficult questions, and facilitates a process of collective narrative-building. In Seville, urban gardeners made a short film exploring the themes of communication and transformation within and between two community gardens.

The project aimed not only to enhance the claims of urban food producers to transform urban food systems, but also to identify opportunities to strengthen and develop the right to the city framework as it is currently articulated, with particular attention given to areas of potential convergence between the right to the city and food sovereignty discourses.


For more information about participatory video making in Seville see Yap, C. (2016). “Garden Inside: Communication, Representation and Transformation in Seville’s Urban Gardens.” Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des éTudes Sur L’alimentation. Available: http://canadianfoodstudies.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cfs/pages/view/GardenInside.

To view the participatory short film made with producer collectives in Seville, ‘Jardin Interior : Garden Inside’, please visit, https://vimeo.com/176170458.

To view the short participatory film ‘Audacious Veg’, made with young food producers in London, please visit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mJZw69Mz0s


If you have any questions or comments on this project, or want to discuss potential collaboration, please contact c.yap@ucl.ac.uk.