Archive for utopia

Guerrilla Gardening

Posted in Atwood, Post-Apocalypse with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by Sarah

When we get to reading The Year of the Flood, we’ll find this link to “guerrilla gardening” of interest.    Gardens have a long history of utopic possibility.  One of the spaces of resistance and possibility is the garden, which impossibly emerges in the otherwise blighted, dangerous, post-industrialized scene of the novel.  How does the garden evoke utopic possibility in the novel?  What does the idea of garden evoke to you?

For one, as the rise of guerrilla gardening suggests, the garden in postmodern life can be seen as representing resistance to the enclosure of public space, a “taking into our own hands” of the systems of production and consumption (i.e. subsistence) that modernity has otherwise taken out of our hands.  The industrialization of food production that accompanies postmodernity has served to exacerbate gaps between wealthy and poor, the global north and the global south, and communities of color (often urban) and whites, for instance.    Around the theme of “food”, then, we can articulate the contours of modern injustice, which the novel’s focus on the garden may be attempting to do.

How did the garden become a leitmotif of ecological resistance?  With the increasing real-life loss of public spaces in which to protest, debate, speak freely, perform, etc.– a loss that Atwood dystopically dramatizes in the novel–  the real-life “guerrilla gardening” movement has “cropped up”, so to speak, in resistance to the industrialization of food and as a reclamation of civil society vis-a-vis public space.  

How does Atwood address this tension between lost public space and resistances to that loss through her focus on the garden?   How does this relate to the Biblical “garden” to which she is also clearly referring?  How can we bring all these typologies of “the garden” to deepen our reading of the novel?