Care of the seed: plant conservation and multispecies fostering

Lewis-Jones, Kay - University of Kent, School of Anthropology and Conservation

With seeds from over thirteen percent of the world’s wild plant species already ‘banked’, seed conservation is a growing point of interaction between people and plants around the world. In this paper I will explore how the process of seed conservation may enable an intimacy within a liminal, multispecies space, in which seed conservationists work hard to learn about and care for their foster species. Examining the agency of the seed in the daily reality of the botanists and research biologists, I propose that ‘the bank’ offers suspension from the spatial and temporal disjuncture that can otherwise challenge human-plant relationships in the world beyond. In this context I ask what the study of human-plant relationships in the techno-science context can contribute to, and garner from more traditional ethnobiological research and suggest that liminality and ritual are an important part of this novel site of environmental interaction and multi-species respect.