Accepted Paper:

Cultivating multiple plant natures in Switzerland  

Authors:

Saskia Walentowitz (Institut of Social Anthropology)
Jonas Thommen (Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, we will explore how non-dualistic approaches in anthropology enable us to fruitfully engage in the making of multiple, differing, and sometimes conflicting plant natures in Switzerland.

Paper long abstract:

In Switzerland, in accordance with the Swiss Constitution's claim to respect the "dignity of creatures", the 2004 Gene Technology Law stipulates that the "dignity of creatures" must be respected in biological research. Since then, scientists are confused about how to demonstrate their compliance. Therefore, in 2008, the Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology issued guidelines including a decision-tree in order to guarantee "The Dignity of living beings with regard to plants". While the Gene Technology Law effectively limits genetic plant engineering in Switzerland, intensifying public programs and non-profit initiatives declare "war" against so-called "invasive species" that threat "native" plants and must therefore be "controlled", indeed "eradicated". In order to investigate such equivocations, social scientists, we will argue, need to de-compose representational, socio-logical approaches to "nature" in the singular. Instead, we will explore how recent, non-dualistic approaches in anthropology enable us to fruitfully engage in the making of multiple, differing, and sometimes, conflicting plant natures in Switzerland.

Panel P091
Living together in changing environments: towards an anthropology of multiple natures in Europe and beyond