Plants as/and Humans: Southern Epistemologies and ‘Floral Turn’

Plants as/and Humans: Southern Epistemologies and ‘Floral Turn’

14. 11. 2022

Workshop ve dnech 21. – 22. listopadu 2022 v seminární místnosti EU AV ČR, 5. patro.

Etnologický ústav AV ČR (Barbora Kyereko, André Thiemann, Luděk Brož, Oddělení ekologické antropologie) ve spolupráci s CEFRES organizuje a srdečně zve na mezinárodní workshop Plants as/and Humans: Southern Epistemologies and ‘Floral Turn’. Program níže.

Workshop se koná ve dnech 21. – 22. listopadu 2022 v seminární místnosti EU AV ČR, 5. patro.

Akce vzniká za podpory programu Strategie AV21 Globální konflikty a lokální souvislosti.


Symbiosis with the plant kingdom is not a possibility, but the very condition of human existence. The intensification of this symbiosis, usually called domestication or development of agriculture, has formed the world in which we live in a radical, hard to overestimate way. Reflecting on the world-making role of plants through the methods of the natural and social sciences reveals plants as mediators of intensifying political and economic transformations of social and ecological relationships in different regions of our planet. Human reflection on this historical agency of plants is just as diverse and dynamic and not limited to the so-called West.

Over the last decade, plants grew in prominence as a topic in social sciences and humanities in general and sociocultural anthropology more specifically. Within that ‘plant turn’ remarkable studies have been published that push the boundary of knowledge making towards ‘planthropology’ (Myers), an ambition to know plants on their own terms that draws on multiple disciplines as a source of input and imagination. At the same time, many of those studies engage the multispecies tangles of various beings by taking on board non-Western understandings both as inspiration and object of study. Despite that important sensitivity being at the heart of contemporary social scientific attention to plants, we believe there is a danger that the plant turn would unconsciously replicate the situation in which the views offered by centres of Euro-American knowledge production are once again considered universal.

The aim of this workshop is to stimulate a dialogue between Southern epistemologies and the plant turn scholarship rather than to further utilize Southern ontologies as a resource for Western (self-)critique. Would Southern perspectives necessarily treat the conflicting moral orders of colonial heritage based on mechanisms of extraction and plantation as incompatible with diverse local metaphysics of plant-and-human worlds? What role do plants play in global economic transactions as seen from the global South? What if the ‘plantationocene’ (Haraway, Tsing) was as much an artefact of floral agency as it is of human agency?

We welcome scholars from a broad array of disciplines who are interested in the above posed and other connected questions. The international two-day workshop will take place in Prague, at the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The travel expenses, accommodation and catering throughout the event will be covered for all invited participants. Funding preference will be given to scholars coming from institutions unable to cover their participation costs. 


Program in pdf here.