A Farewell to Oil: Low-Carbon Ecology and Social Power in Cuban Urban Agriculture

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: For three decades, food supply in Cuban cities was dependent on oil from the Soviet Union. Then the socialist bloc collapsed, oil supply ceased, and an urban agricultural movement brought vegetable production into the cities. – Today, the need for low-carbon energy transitions is increasingly recognised globally. This thesis examines energy transitions based on the Cuban urban agricultural experience: how is space organised socially and ecologically in and around organopónicos to enable production? And what does this imply in relation to the Cuban state’s tendency during the period of Soviet dependency to centralise production and political power? Based on fieldwork in Pinar del Río, the spatial organisation of social institutions and flows of organic materials, seeds, water, pest management methods, and other energy sources that enable and regulate production is examined. It is argued that organopónicos cannot be understood as autonomous agroecological production systems as opposed to industrial production stems in either social or ecological terms, as existing literature posits. Rather, urban agriculture in Cuba is simultaneously agroecological and industrial. The thesis instead conceptualises urban agriculture in Cuba and low-carbon energy transitions through a novel theoretical framework of spatial assemblages.

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