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Wormy Collaborations in Practices of Soil Construction

Abstract : This paper studies the capture of organisms and materials in soil construction-a branch of ecological engineering dedicated to making soil in order to compensate for soil degradation. This approach takes all organisms to be 'ecosystem engineers', and often refers to earthworms as 'collaborators' in making soil. I examine the claim that such convocation of worms amounts to a redistribution of agency and the underlying assumption that form-taking is the shaping of raw matter according to pre-existing forms. Drawing on processual anthropology, I question the distinction between living and material components of soils, and between growing and making. I elaborate on soil scientists' description of soil growth as pedogenesis in order to propose a view in which soil materials, along with organisms, participate in soil's transformative and generative fluxes. I envisage the process as a concrescence, an experimentation that brings humans, worms, and soil materials together in new ways.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02882907
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Submitted on : Sunday, June 28, 2020 - 12:02:34 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 7, 2022 - 6:09:03 AM

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Germain Meulemans. Wormy Collaborations in Practices of Soil Construction. Theory, Culture and Society, SAGE Publications, 2020, 37 (1), pp.93-112. ⟨10.1177/0263276419851857⟩. ⟨hal-02882907⟩

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