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Accepted Contribution:

Divided Grounds in the Post-Soviet Space: Reflections on Human-Soil Relations on Fragmented Land  
Daniela Ana (Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Economics in Transition Economies)

Contribution short abstract:

This paper explores the interplay between soil degradation and property relations, using a case from the Republic of Moldova to show how property shapes soil care practices and how people understand ailing soils.

Contribution long abstract:

I examine the interplay between agricultural soil degradation and property relations using a case from the Republic of Moldova, a country where agriculture is a key socio-economic activity and soil erosion has become a pervasive problem. For smallholders, in particular, the fragmented plots of land they received after the collapse of the USSR have proved to be an essential means of subsistence in the post-Soviet decades. The further degradation of the land could lead to an increase in food insecurity and would increase the risk of poverty for large sections of the population. On the other hand, Moldovan state officials and soil scientists often describe the current property system as too fragmented and slowing down soil protection strategies. In this context, what meanings and values do smallholders still attach to their fragmented plots of land more than two decades after decollectivisation? In exploring these issues, I make novel connections between the anthropology of property, human-soil relations, and political ecology, showing how property systems and land governance shape soil care practices and ultimately affect the ways in which people understand ailing soils. An image of a striated autumn landscape in Moldova will be a starting point for the reflections.

Roundtable RT178
Doing and undoing grounds: rethinking the groundings of anthropocene anthropology
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -