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Introduction

Seeds—Grown, governed, and contested, or the ontic in political anthropology

Birgit Müller

Keywords: governance; intellectual property; political ontology; seeds; the sensorial

Seeds are simultaneously a meaningful part of the daily life of many people involved in agriculture and instruments for national and international policy making. This thematic section explores the sensorial connections between people and plants, the relationships of power that impact and frame them, and the reflections and contestations that they are a part of. In the midst of Western societies and among scientists and farmers, different ontologies and different perceptions of being and coevolving with others in the world coexist, as we will show by looking at human-seed relationships. Local and global legacies create powerful differences between seeds, while various forms of international governance simultaneously push seeds toward homogenization and agriculture toward industrialization while claiming to preserve diversity. Intellectual property rights over seeds and seed regulations have become powerful tools of multinational seed corporations for appropriating large parts of farmers' incomes and controlling the food chain, while it is the sensorial and emotional connections between humans and plants that provide the drive to resist them.

Affiliations

Müller, Birgit - LAIOS/CNRS