School of Geography

Liev Cherry


PhD student

Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.08


PhD research

Urban farming on various scales in Detroit, Michigan

My research looks at urban farming on various scales in Detroit, Michigan. In the context of the city’s status both as a site of post-industrial decline and as an iconic landscape of contemporary devastation, urban agriculture has become an essential component in narratives of recovery, from small scale neighbourhood gardens to civic planning and large scale corporate proposals. The idea of Detroit as empty, derelict, and a victim of corporate and social disinterest are central to these efforts, and represent a powerful trope that often works to obscure a large amount of existing social and economic activity. The city’s picturesque ruins serve as foundation for a variety of (often competing) imagined utopias, attracting artists, social entrepreneurs, and property speculators with the promise of a $100 house and the opportunity to reinvent the urban, or stake a claim in the sustainable city of the future. Prevailing ideas of Detroit as a new urban frontier go beyond previous theoretical formulations in their direct engagement with nature, land, and labour as exploitable resources, the pioneer ‘spirit’ of standard early wave urban gentrifiers amplified by a prairie landscape, minimal civic government, and the sheer volume of purchaseable space.

Research assistant for the Emergency Food Provision in the UK project, funded by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences. With Professor Jon May (QMUL), Professor Paul Cloke (University of Exeter) and Dr Andrew Williams (Cardiff University).

Key words: food banking, food poverty, postsecular, austerity, welfare reform and the 3rd sector, scarcity, destitution




  • ESRC

Academic background

  • MRes Geography, QMUL
  • BA Anthropology, Goldsmiths