Feb 20 2019

Sanctuary Gardens: Politics, Place, and Nature in Chicago an Afternoon with Dr. Molly Doane, UIC Anthropology

Brown Bag Series

February 20, 2019

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM


BSB 2105


Chicago, IL 60612

In this discussion, Dr. Doane will explore how certain political and emotional responses to the 2017 “Muslim ban” and the threat of Latinix deportation were spatialized within community gardens that serve refugee and immigrant populations in Chicago. I explore the links between the affective practice of gardeners and the sanctuary social movement by considering how gardeners create and reconstitute meaningful social and natural spaces through the “growing and making” (Jepson 2014) that gardening entails. Community gardens arise during moments of systemic crisis, usually in response to wars or economic downturns. Liberty Gardens during WWI, Relief gardens during the Great Depression, Victory gardens during WWII—these garden booms reflect the tie between cyclical political-economic crises and social movement (Bassett 1979, Pudup  2008, Lawson 2005). The recent upsurge in community gardening since the Millennium has commonly been analyzed as a defensive response to neoliberalism that promotes individualism and self-help. My work shows that many people—regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality—do garden in the “self-help” mode mental and physical health benefits. On the surface, this is a kind of self-provisioning of care prescribed by the neo-liberal system. However, we explore the possibility that gardening opens new ways of understanding that system, exploits and widens its cracks and is productive of new understandings of the nature of the current political-ecological crisis. In particular, I engage the idea of sanctuary to connect the overt political expressions of social movement in the age of Trump to the place-making practices of refugee and immigrant gardeners in Chicago.  

Dr. Doane's talk will begin at 3pm in BSB 2105. After the talk and questions, we will move across the hall for light refreshments in the Anthropology lounge.

The Graduate Anthropology and Geography Association (GAGA) sponsors a year-long series of Brown Bag talks, workshops, and roundtables among our faculty and graduate students. Talks may be a student 'testing out' a presentation, a student or faculty member working through a challenge in their research, or an informal sharing of each other's research. We offer a series of hands-on workshops geared to improve our teaching, applying for jobs, or becoming better presenters. Roundtables are opportunities for graduate students to get together and discuss challenges and solutions for difficult issues from managing the classroom to balancing work and our social lives.


Anthropology Office

Date posted

Jan 16, 2019

Date updated

Feb 5, 2019