On May 17, 2013, CSW hosted "Cultural Politics of Seeds," a symposium organized by Allison Carruth, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at UCLA, and Rachel Lee, CSW Interim Director and Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Gender Studies at UCLA. The symposium was part of the multiyear Life (Un)Ltd. research project, which addresses the question of what impact recent developments in the biosciences and biotechnology have had on feminist studies. This year the group is exploring the rich connections between food, ecology, propagation, and metabolism.
The Cultural Politics of Seeds symposium looked at how gender, ethnicity, and race have shaped contemporary cultural and political movements related to seeds: How has global climate in relation to economic and cultural crises affected food systems and place-based heirloom seeds? What sociological, ethnographic, and humanistic methodological tools have we integrated into the study of food culture and food politics, and to what ends? To what extent has research by corporations and engineers redefined the ecology of seeds and how have political and artistic forms of resistance intervened?
To read more about the symposium, visit the CSW website or read the symposium preview in a recent issue of the CSW newsletter. A full list of the presentations is below. Presentations that were recorded contain links to their videos on YouTube:
Session 1: Seed Genetics & Seed Sovereignty
Akhil Gupta, Farmer Suicides: Seeds of Discontent?
Rebecca Tsosie, Indigenous Peoples and First Foods: The Cultural Landscape of Food Sustainability in an Age of Bioengineering
Elaine Gan, Considering Rice: Mapping Differential Temporalities
Chair/Discussant: Rachel Lee
Session 2: Local Knowledge and Global Food Networks
David Cleveland, What Farmers Know: Local Seeds and Knowledge in a Globalized World
Allison Carruth, Seed Banks and Seed Networks: Narratives, Images, Infrastructure
Anne-Lise François, “The Loves of the Plants”: Rereading Romantic Botany in an Age of Honeybee Colony Collapse
Chair/Discussant: Jessica Lynch Alfaro
Session 3: Sowing Mesoamerica: Maize, Migration, Resistance
Daniela Soleri and Lucilia Martínez, Maize and Migration, One Family’s Story
Tezozomoc, Xinachtli: Myth and Life in the Meso-American Diaspora
Lindsay Naylor, Sowing the Seeds of Resistance: Maiz Criollo in Highland Chiapas
Chair/Discussant: Anne McKnight
Plenary Session: Unruly Seeds and Heritage Foods
Matias Viegener, Feral, Wild, Domestic, and Social
Stephen S. Jones, Kicking the Commodity Habit: The Value of Being Grown Out of Place
Chair: Ann Hirsch
Discussant: David King