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A networking organisation for plants-related research and impact

'Epistemologies of Soil' is a one-day symposium organised by gloknos Visiting Fellow Maarten Meijer.

As evidenced by discussions on soil degradation, soil carbon sequestration, peak soil, soil health, soil care, and soil art, soils are very much on the menu in public life in the 21st century. Yet, simultaneously this (re)turn to visibility of soils present us with a re-appreciation of soils, especially its living character and its interactions with the atmospheric carbon cycles (Puig de la Bellacasa 2019). Thus, in today’s context of planetary change and the social anxieties it generates, the philosopher Bruno Latour argues, “the very notion of soil is changing” (Latour 2018, 4).

What to make of this changing notion of soil, and the return of soil as a public matter of concern? And, if indeed the notion of soil operational in today’s problematizations of it presupposes epistemological change, what kind of soil epistemologies would enable us to give shape to more just eco-social futures? These questions are all the more pertinent in a context in which forms of life, production and consumption are called into question by the intrusion of Gaia and the ongoing process of planetary negotiation that her intrusion instigates (Stengers 2015).

Recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has formulated responses to these questions by critiquing dominant soil epistemologies and discourses, and exploring alternative conceptions and practices of soils. In line with the former, environmental historians, political ecologists, and eco-social geographers have explored how soil science historically has been and continues to be implicated in projects of racist, colonialist, and capitalist governance (Holleman 2018; Sant 2018; Engel-di Mauro 2014). Additionally, more anthropologically-oriented scholars have outlined more-than and different-than human soil epistemologies, in order to decolonise soil discourses and open the conversation to a broader range of soil epistemologies and practices (Salazar et al. 2020; Krzywoszynska and Marchesi 2020; Lyons 2020, Engel-di Mauro 2014).

This symposium seeks to stage a conversation between some of these complementary voices in soil scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in order to explore questions situated at the intersection of soil epistemologies, politics, and planetary change.

Please find more information here.


Image: 'Brown and Green Fields' by Elizabeth Lies (@elizabethlies) via Unsplash.

Friday, 26 November, 2021 - 14:00 to 19:00