Composing Plant Agents: Configuring Conservation Around People and Plant Relationships

Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 11:00
Abstract Key Words: 
Ethnobotany, Ethics and Research Methods, Multi-Species Ontologies
, Natasha-Kim - SFU

Broadening understandings and conceptualizations of people-plant relationships is becoming a vital component in the disbanding of colonial legacies. This presentation focuses on some emergent constitutions of plants as active agents and the ways they configure different people and plant relationships and approaches to conservation. Drawing on ethnographic research carried out in Talamanca, Costa Rica and British Columbia, Canada, I discuss some concerns that people working with plant medicines have with conservation approaches based on imagined divides separating humans and non-humans. I examine some of the consequences of various constructions of plants as subjective beings and causal agents and the ways that plant-centrism can also uphold strong nature and society dualisms. Supporting cultural and environmental conservation demands a robust reflexivity into the ways plant identities and agency are constituted to ensure that they do not engage hegemonic forms of normalization and regulation that are consistent with enduring forms of colonization.