Phytopolitics: Four Forays into Vegetation

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM


Phytopolitics: Four Forays into Vegetation
Dr. Catriona Sandilands

Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
2016 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow

In recent years, a growing body of research has emerged to indicate that plants demonstrate qualities that should rightly be called intelligence: they sense the world through a complex perceptual apparatus, respond to problems, and even communicate their perceptions and responses to both plant and animal others. At the same time, plants are currently treated as disposable, dead commodities on a scale unprecedented in human history: industrial agriculture, landscaping, and pharmacology, for example, have almost completely reduced plants to the status of "standing reserve" or "bare life." This presentation takes four interdisciplinary forays into the complex world of plant politics -- including combinations of botany, philosophy, literature, and anthropology -- in order to investigate this apparent paradox, with the aim of stimulating more attentive and reflective human/vegetal relations. Vegetation, here, appears as a complex practice that requires people to both reimagine and resituate plants.

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