Dancing with foxes : More‐than‐human design in ‘the chicken city’

Oliver, Catherine (2024) Dancing with foxes : More‐than‐human design in ‘the chicken city’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. ISSN 0020-2754

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Urban chicken‐keeping is on the rise in London, in private gardens, community gardens, allotments, schools, and urban farm projects. In welcoming chickens into the city, urban spaces are being transformed: coops are being built, runs constructed, chicken‐friendly flora introduced, and space landscaped to accommodate both chickens and humans. Underneath the design of these multispecies urban spaces, there is a desire to bring the good life into the city, through a return to nature. Chicken‐keeping is being lauded by urban keepers and commentators alike as a response to urban crises over food provenance and quality, environmental ethics, and a growing unease with industrial agriculture. However, after chickens arrive in these urban spaces, it becomes quickly apparent that the design of the urban barnyard imposed by the human is rarely practical for, or enjoyed by, chickens: perfectly laid lawns are torn up, plants are demolished, and vegetable patches are gorged on, and chickens are at the mercy of local foxes. When chickens enter these urban barnyards, they demand humans pay attention to their desires, behaviours, and territoriality by overflowing and expanding their assigned space. As such, designing the urban barnyard is an ongoing spatio‐temporal iterative process between chickens, humans, and other non‐human actors in the more‐than‐human city. In this paper, using the case of the urban chicken, I argue that more‐than‐human (urban) geographies can find generative collaborations with design thinking in theorising human–environmental relationalities.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? londondesignmore‐than‐human geographyurban geographychickensearth-surface processesgeography, planning and development ??
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Deposited On:
12 Jun 2024 08:10
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 01:17