Contemporary environmental threats inspire the formation of new global communities and relationships: networks that both transcend nations and local environmental interactions and forge novel assemblages of human and non-human collaborations in a bid to “reset their modes of being” (Scott 2013:864). The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP), for example, is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world and brings together partners from over 80 countries in an endeavor to conserve seeds from rare, wild plant species. As the potential use of the wild plant becomes increasingly central to the conservation relationship at the MSBP and implicated within a wider discourse on the neoliberalization of conservation, this paper explores how the term “use” may in fact encompass a nascent desire to reframe the human-plant relationship. By critically evaluating the values and intentions behind the quest for novel plant-uses by those who work within the MSBP, this paper examines the implications of seed-saving within a contemporary conservation institution. For those involved, rather than objectifying and creating a utilitarian relationship with nature, the concept of use is indicative of an aspiration to foster intimate, reciprocal relationships with their non-human counterparts, operating within an ontology in which humans and plants are interdependent. This paper argues that at a time when sustaining ontological diversity is key to ensuring cultural resilience and adaptation to environmental challenges, it is vital that ethnobiologists engage not only with traditional models, but also explore what innovative, intentional relationships with nature may be emerging from within conservation.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 36 • No. 1