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Accepted Contribution:

Solace for the Soil: a Multimodal Ethnography  
Daniela Rodrigues (IDEAS - Aix Marseille Université)

Contribution short abstract:

This multimodal ethnography of the soil focuses on eroded and toxic lands of southern Portugal, where innovative soil regeneration projects are taking place. By combining artistic and anthropological approaches, it unveils a complex assembly of past, present, and future worldmaking practices.

Contribution long abstract:

This paper presents the preliminary findings of an ongoing multimodal and transdisciplinary research project with a primary focus on soil. The study delves into the southern drylands of Portugal, specifically in Alentejo. Despite grappling with challenges such as drought, soil erosion, and toxicity resulting from both historical and contemporary monoculture practices, this region distinguishes itself by hosting innovative soil regeneration projects and pioneering agroforestry experiments in Mediterranean regions. These initiatives strive to rejuvenate and purify the soil through a complex assembly of worldmaking practices.

In line with the inseparability and intra-activity of geological, ecological, and cultural dimensions (Barad 2003), this research integrates artistic and anthropological approaches to unveil bio-social practices and onto-epistemologies surrounding the soil. It considers the soil's pasts, presents, and futures, as well as the intricate web of multispecies relationships it sustains and the potential spirits that may inhabit it. To accomplish this, the research draws inspiration from Verónica Gerber's concept of "Escritura Compostaje" (compost writing) and aspires to an “Etnografia-Compostaje” by blurring the boundaries between archive, testimony, fiction, language, and materiality. The current multimodal approach combines the retrieval (and reappropriation) of visual archives documenting local sociopolitical experiments in land collectivization during the 1970s (post-Carnation revolution) with hands-on ethnographic research involving agroforest human and non-human actors engaged in present-day transformative practices that nurture and regenerate soils that have been intoxicated and eroded.

Through the integration of artistic and ethnographic methodologies, this study aims to comprehend these intricate worlding practices, challenging conventional divisions within these realms of knowledge.

Roundtable ORT121
Ecosystemic awareness in the doing and undoing of anthropology
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -