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History & Land in the Anthropocene

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

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  1. Concluding our film series on History & Land in the Anthropocene – and hopefully the beginning of a wider conversation on the subject -- we have two short films about collective farming projects, urban development, and the consequences of the modern economy.

This Was Forever (Mark Aitken, 2007) follows a group of East London allotment holders who face losing their land as part of the 2012 London Olympics redevelopment plans. Manor Gardens Allotments began life as a reclaimed Edwardian rubbish dump but became a place of symbolic and emotional significance for the people who tended the land. Forced to flee from Cyprus, a gardener carried a cutting of the family’s fig tree which his son took to Manor Gardens and lovingly grew into his own tree. A recently bereaved woman found sanctuary at her plot, finding friends who allowed her to grieve there. The allotments offer locals the enjoyment of tending the land, growing produce, and being part of a strong and supportive community. This Was Forever explores the importance of the land to the individuals, families, and the community connected to it.

In Our Hands (Joanne Barker and Sylvie Planel, 2017) moves beyond the allotment to examine a collective project. It is the story of a new kind of farm, a new kind of food and a new kind of society. The link between people, food and land is breaking, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In Our Hands explores a quiet revolution to take back control of the food system by transforming how our food is produced and distributed. From the outskirts of London to the rural countryside, producers are redefining the meaning of ‘local’, resisting the dominant narrative of the food industry which values profit over people and environment. This film about farming and food sovereignty in the UK illustrates how we stand on the brink, the future is uncertain, but the seeds of a better food system are In Our Hands.


A roundtable discussion will follow these films.

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