As part of my ethnographic research, I recently visited a hamlet (anonymised) in Castilla de La Mancha, in an elevated region known as ‘the Sibera of Spain’ for its cold weather. Only 6 people live here, while around 50 years ago, over 100 people did (forming part of a wider rural-urban migration process referred to commonly as La España Vaciada, Emptied Spain). The hamlet used to function through subsistence farming and used little money, relying mostly on trade. The man in photo six used to spend 3 months a year sleeping open air in the communal owned mount (el monte, photographed) to make vegetable carbon (he was the ‘carbonero’), while also hunting hares (liebres) for food and cutting encina trees for firewood (leña) and trading it for vegetables from a neighbouring hamlet who had access to irrigated land.
One aim of my thesis is to understand how the formation of (often illegal re-appropriated) green space in Barcelona draws from modes of sociality, epistemologies (ways of creating knowledge) and relations to nature/culture which stem from the subsistence backgrounds that many of my participants grew up in/ migrated from. Public green spaces are formed by a complex blend of individuals and groups. Beyond rural ex-payeses, many who form part of these zones have migrated from Global South nations ravaged by Spanish/ European (neo)-colonial projects of resource extraction and industrial modernisation, bringing with them knowledge of non-industrial food cultivation and different perceptions of how humans should exist within a mainly non-human planet, and even what it means to be ‘human’.