Applications are open for a fully funded PhD position in social anthropology joint-supervised between the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (EHESS). The fellowship is part of the project “Flourishing Seeds. Value Creation and Relatedness in AgroBiodiversity Hotspots,” funded by the ERC Starting Grant SeedsValues (950220).
We still lack fundamental knowledge to identify the manifold values of agricultural plants. While the value of crop varieties is usually assessed in economic terms, we need to also consider the ethical engagements that incentivise farmers to perpetuate biodiverse agriculture. This will be achieved by examining seed-human relatedness - both affective and instrumental - in three agrobiodiversity hotspots: potato cultivation in Peru, maize in Mexico and rice in Laos. Prominent on global markets, also distinguished by international institutions as highly promising to reach “global food security” on our damaged planet, these crops are dear to the Indigenous people who cultivate and eat them daily. The SeedsValues project draws on ethnographic enquiries at the crossroads of interspecies studies, economic anthropology, anthropology of ethics, anthropology of technique and anthropology of life, to shed new lights on the process of value creation in agricultural activities. We contend that agriculture offers a unique ethnographic object to overcome the current split between the economic and the ethical studies on value, thereby contributing to the elaboration of a general anthropology of value still lacking to date.
Under the supervision of Olivia Angé (SeedsValues PI at Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains - LAMC) and Perig Pitrou (CNRS, Head of the team Anthropology of Life at Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale - LAS), the successful candidate will carry out a long-term ethnography into maize-human relatedness in a highland agricultural community of Mexico (in the state of Oaxaca or Chiapas). (S)he will be working in collaboration with the SeedsValues team members; including a comparative tandem with a postdoctoral fellow who will study intensive maize cultivation in the lowlands of the same region.
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