‘A Peaceful Path to’ Healthy Bodies: The Biopolitics of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

‘A Peaceful Path to’ Healthy Bodies: The Biopolitics of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City


  • Samuel Martin Clevenger Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, USA
  • David Lawrence Andrews Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, USA


Abstract  Recent renewed discussions of the garden city as a “developmental model for the present and foreseeable future” (Stern, Fishman, & Tilove, 2013) have prompted us to reflect upon its endurance as an agent of spatial and urban reform. Looking to extend the established garden city literature, we argue the history of Ebenezer Howard’s community model should be reexamined as a cultural history of body and environmental politics. In this commentary, we explicate how Howard’s garden city model served as a spatial vehicle for installing the biopolitical agendas of Victorian reformers keen to “civilize” working class bodies in the service of British industrial and imperial power. This entails a brief examination of the biopolitical dimensions of garden city history, keying on the prescribed restructuring of urban life and the concomitant “regeneration” of working class bodies within and through garden city designs. Our aim is to challenge scholars, planners, and policymakers of the garden city present, to consider the ways the garden city was historically planned to reproduce the cultural, spatial, and biopolitical relations of Western capitalism.


Keywords  biopolitics; countryside; Ebenezer Howard; embodiment; garden city; nature; working class


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v2i4.1251


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