This talk is concerned with the role for agri-environmental social sciences in understanding the new human condition called by some “the Anthropocene”, and what I increasingly think of as the challenge of living with Gaia. How have we become so lost that our most fundamental relationship with the environment, food getting, has come to undermine both our futures and those of our environments? And what is needed to build a new pact between humans and living ecosystems? I have been exploring these questions specifically in relation to soil as an existentially and conceptually crucial matter. In this paper, I examine modern farming as built on multiple alienations, and propose the conditions under which re-connection and a building agricultures which work with Gaia may become possible.
This talk is the second in Wageningen University Rural Sociology Group’s 75 years anniversary seminar series “Looking back, Looking Forward: Setting a future agenda for rural sociology”. For more information see our full agenda here.