Growing Plants

In Cultural Ecology 2017 we read Tim Ingold’s “Making things, growing plants, raising animals, and bringing up children” in The Perception of the Environment.

We paired that reading with chapters in Hugh Brody’s Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier (214-255). Brody helps uncover different ways of understanding hunting and the landscape–a contrast between the landscape as home and as nature, or for weekend sports hunters.

This material was for Cultural Ecology 2017. There is parallel material in the Cultural Ecology 2020 course titled Domestic.

I revisited this material in a 2022 course on the History of Anthropological Thought:

Ecology & Economy

In On Contamination: Conservation Science in Devilish Landscapes (January 2018), Meredith Root-Bernstein explores issues that are relevant to the Brody reading (as well as the necessity of the cases Ingold uses to be “making a living” in addition to simply “growing plants”):

Ecologists, and even conservationists, like to think that the economy is outside our field of expertise, that it is someone else’s business to think about, that it is an immutable given, that the devil never dies. This was the moment I began to realize that the economy is part of ecology, and that if I want to conserve palma chilena, monitos del monte, and landscapes, I can’t just count on someone else to work out an alternative way of organizing how people raise their livestock, how they harvest forest products, and on what basis they exchange things.


In How Gardens Talk Back, Megan Maurer speaks about her research in terms very similar to what Ingold describes:

“All gardening is a kind of collaboration with nature,” one community gardener mused as we took a break from weeding herbs. To collaborate, one must have a sense of one’s partner, a way to communicate and define shared goals. As gardeners sought to care for their households, communities, and ecosystems, and to create the kinds of environments and city they wanted to inhabit, they collaborated with their gardens as ecosystems composed of nonhuman beings like insects, fungi, and plants.

To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2017. “Growing Plants and Making Things: Ecology and Economy.” Living Anthropologically website, First posted 22 February 2017. Revised 5 March 2018.

Image credit: Crop Damage Caused by Wild Pigs.

Living Anthropologically means documenting history, interconnection, and power during a time of global transformation. We need to care for others as we attempt to build a world together. This blog is a personal project of Jason Antrosio, author of Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy. For updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow on Twitter.

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