As evidence mounts that changing climates may wreak havoc on agricultural systems, the social life of seeds has gained resonance and complexity. Situated perspectives on crop genetic resources span from modernist technocentrism to the rooted cultural traditions of more-than-human families. Anthropology is well-suited to explore how diverse communities devoted to seed banking and seed saving understand their projects, and reflect on models of kinship and reciprocity that are entangled in imaginaries of agricultural fertility. This talk discusses examples of people and organizations who create space for the mingling of plant science with affective ecologies. Their stories are the ontological refugia from which material and cultural means of resurgence may grow to remediate Anthropocene food systems.
Tracey Heatherington is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has been a Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University and at UWM’s Center for 21st Century Studies, as well as a Visiting Professor at the University of Cagliari (Italy), and Dartmouth College. She received the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing for her book, Wild Sardinia: Indigeneity and the Global Dreamtimes of Environmentalism (UWP 2010).