Stewardship practice and the performance of citizenship: Greening tree-pits in the streets of Berlin

Jens Lachmund*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


Hands-on activities of shaping and maintaining urban public green spaces, in short, “stewardship,” have become a flourishing field of civic engagement. It is the aim of this article to find out how citizenship is enacted in the everyday practice of stewardship, and how such an analysis can benefit from theories of “material participation” and “practice.” It explores this theme through a case study of the greening of tree-pits in Berlin. The article asks: (1) how people, through their doing of stewardship, engage with the tangible places that they take care of, and (2) how connections between stewardship, its focal places, and other practices shape and sustain wider public concerns. Thereby, it identifies three intersecting and materially grounded “civic nexuses of practices,” which each imply specific constructions of citizenship: civic neighboring, managed volunteering, and political mobilization. It explores how each of these nexuses emerges from the convergence of practices around the tree-pit, and probes the tensions and conflicts that they entail. In contrast to authors who have either cherished stewardship as a form of citizen empowerment, or, in line with Foucauldian governmentality studies, as the formation of governable citizen-subjects, the article emphasizes the politically ambiguous dynamics through which stewards practice their citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23996544211070204
Pages (from-to)1290-1306
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning C-Politics and Space
Issue number6
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Citizenship
  • FOOD
  • practice theory
  • stewardship
  • urban environment
  • urban greening

Cite this