Like many neighborhoods in cities across the United States, Gifford Park—a neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska—has been recreating itself through urban agriculture. Past research about urban agriculture reveals that it can operate as a material argument that resists negative characterizations and empowers residents, but this argument is incomplete. This case study extends the idea that places can function as spatial arguments and conceptualizes urban agriculture as a place ballet. Place ballets, which describe the interactions between places and bodies, offer a way of thinking about large-scale, slow-moving rhetorical action as well as demonstrating how economic and racial privilege manifest in the place and bodies—the material foundations of a place ballet. I argue that urban agriculture functions as a place ballet that reveals a complex, material argument about the positive impacts places and bodies can have on communities and community members while simultaneously overlooking the economic and racial privileges inherent in these efforts. Although the concept of a place ballet is a useful way to bring together two aspects of material rhetoric—place and bodies—it carries its own implications of economic and racial privilege.
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