© 2019

The Urban Gardens of Havana

Seeking Revolutionary Plants in Ideologized Spaces


  • Combines bottom-up, actor-network, and green-continuum methodologies to provide creative insights into contemporary Cuba

  • Examines the constant dialogue between Cuban urban gardeners and the State and gardeners and their plants

  • Develops the idea that urban gardens are an amalgamation of simultaneities that reveal the skewed foundations of the Anthropocene


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Ola Plonska, Younes Saramifar
    Pages 1-7
  3. Ola Plonska, Younes Saramifar
    Pages 9-34
  4. Ola Plonska, Younes Saramifar
    Pages 35-60
  5. Ola Plonska, Younes Saramifar
    Pages 61-87
  6. Ola Plonska, Younes Saramifar
    Pages 89-92
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 93-101

About this book


This book relates stories of everyday life revolving around small-scale urban gardens in Central Havana and focusing particularly on that of Marcelo, a seventy-four-year-old revolutionary and gardener. The urban gardens are contested spaces: though monitored and controlled by Cuban state institutions, they also offer possibilities of crafting life in resistance. The experiences the authors narrate are not ‘thick descriptions,’ linked to larger political issues, but rather rhizomatic observations that highlight the relationships between humans and non-humans within the nature-culture debate. Using these experiences, the authors argue that ‘the political’ reaches beyond the affairs of state and governance and should be seen as an all-encompassing part of life. The authors thereby invite the social sciences to focus on the microscopic and the day-to-day to illuminate how the political affairs of lives can be imagined differently.


Cuban agriculture Actor-Network theory social control lived experiences Foucault heterotopias moments of freedom everyday life cultural anthropology Latin America state control

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

About the authors

Ola Plonska is an anthropologist and junior researcher affiliated with the department of social and cultural anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She has published in journals such as the Journal for Cultural Research and is interested in human-nature relationships and the politics of food.

Younes Saramifar is the Post-doctoral Einstein Research Fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. His area of research is material culture of resistance movements and paramilitarism, as well as ecological crisis in precarious conditions of the Middle East.

Bibliographic information


“The Urban Gardens of Havana offers an insightful, detailed, theoretically rigorous and imaginative account of the relationships between urban farmers, the state and nonhuman entities in Cuba … .” (Sahib Singh, LSE Review of Books,, November 8, 2019)