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Accepted Paper:

Between Earth and Sky: the soil. A biodynamic relationship entangled in a social, ecopolitical and spiritual commitment.  
Bertrande Galfré (Université Paris-Nanterre)

Paper short abstract:

In southwestern France, peasants involved in Biodynamic Agriculture are working on their relationship to "the Living". Practicing this agriculture of care, their work on the soil is at the heart of entangled relationships informing their agronomical, ecopolitical and spiritual commitments.

Paper long abstract:

This study takes place in the Comminges region in the South of France and focuses on a peasant network involved in Biodynamic Agriculture.

In 1924 Rudolf Steiner founded the Biodynamic Agriculture at the very beginning of the organic movement in Europe and inspired by his esoteric current called Anthroposophy. The Biodynamic Agriculture's spiritual origins have practical consequences for it is nether simply about improving the productivity of the farm but is rather an agriculture of care, aiming to reach a symbiotic welfare for the individual and his environment through a process of ritualization of practices. The biodynamic farming is related to an ideal: the agricultural organism. In hence, the farm is conceived as a "whole" with each element specifically considered. Biodynamists desire to understand the living forces of nature and connect or "reconnect" to them.

In this process, the soil is a major concern. Its ethnography enlightens the biodynamic holistic approach and its analogical way of thinking, as the interactions with the soil are intertwined with many other relationships (with animals, plants, Earth, Sky, etc…) and scales: from the most micro (microorganisms in the ground) to the most macro level (the cosmical influences).

In this fieldwork, practices are driven both by a peasant commitment (which is social and political) and by a spiritual commitment. Using a relational approach to ritual (Houseman, 2012), we will see how links are built and maintained between this diversity of actors engaged in the welfare of the agricultural organism's foundations.

Panel P080
(Re)connecting with Earth Beings: ritual innovation and affective entanglements in contemporary ecopolitics