People-plant alignments in healing
Julie Laplante (University of Ottawa)
Paper short abstract:
Akin to a discussion in medical anthropology on the problem with thinking in terms of medical systems I would like to tease this out with the notion of ecosystem and rather propose meshworks as more relevant to understand what healers do with plants at two edges of the Indian Ocean.
Paper long abstract:
The notions of ecology and ecosystem seem to carry the same imagination of a habitat or environment that can be studied either in itself or in the interrelations between its objets (organisms) or components (biotic or abiotic) assuming a pre-existing organization or system that in turn we need to 'sustain', 'save', 'protect' or 'preserve' from the outside. Akin to a discussion in medical anthropology that has thoroughly critiqued the assumption of pre-existing (ethno)medical systems and their corresponding bofies to defend, fix and protect., the idea of a system takes us backwards in a research agenda to document its workings as if it had some kind of closure. As a partial solution to this problem, Latour's networks can extend indefinitely, making our task to follow the ways humans and nonhumans assemble as they make the social yet keeping with interests in knots of connections. Meshworks as proposed by Ingold and corresponding with Deleuze and Guattari's 'lines of becoming' offer possibilities to navigate through all of this in a movement forward. The idea of lines that bend from the middle with no beginning and no end as well as showing endless possibilities of entanglements has been the most useful notion in my research aiming to understand how people entangle beneficially with vegetal lives in healing. I would like to tease this out through the practices of healers with whom I did fieldwork at two edges of the Indian Ocean.
Ecosystem as concept, legacy, and (sustainable) futures