Making soils count in UK policy

When I started my project on the changing attitudes to soils in the UK conventional farming community eighteen months ago, I bought myself a pair of sturdy and sensible wellies. I foresaw a lot of time spent in muddy fields and at fringe farming events. I never thought I would be standing at the terrace of Westminster Palace, looking over a teacup of fine bone china at Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as he proclaims that soils are the UK’s most valuable resource. A crowd of soil enthusiasts at the SSA event; picture by Joel Williams, with permission. Michael Gove’s speech took place at a parliamentary reception organised by the Sustainable Soils

Waste burning and toxic soil formation in urban areas

In recent years, the practice of burning garbage in open spaces has proliferated within neighbourhoods of Bengaluru. However, the practice is not uncommon in other cities of India either. The burning of waste has the potential to change soil compositions in urban areas and affect both environment and human health. Burning garbage in a vacant lot, located along the Hessarghatta Road, Bengaluru (Author, 9 October 2017) Residential areas in Bengaluru can be seen scorched with burnt soils. While government officials view this issue to emerge out of sub-contracting, informality and illegality in waste-management practices, residents of Kirloskar Layout along Hessarghatta Road report that garbag

Knowing Soils: An Anthropology of Agricultural Knowledge

On 27 and 28 January 2017, the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 923 “Threatened Order – Societies under Stress” at the University of Tübingen hosted an international workshop on “Knowing Soils: An Anthropology of Agricultural Knowledge”. Organized by the research group “Salinization and soil degradation as threats to the agrarian orders in Russia, Kazakhstan/ Tajikistan and Australia since 1945,” the workshop offered an interdisciplinary platform where historians, political scientists, geographers and anthropologists working across the world discussed how different kinds of groups such as soil scientists and farmers know ‘soil’. How do the assumptions about what soil ‘is’ (a notoriously s

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