Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Sutton, David

Abstract

This project explores the relationships between people, environment, and possibility through two of the world's smallest materials: agricultural seeds and mushroom cultures. While often seen as products of nature, seeds and cultures also embody complex social, historical, political and economic realities as they come into contact with human hands. Through fieldwork on small-scale farms in southern Illinois, including farm tours, agricultural trainings and interviews, as well as an analysis of seed descriptions in a popular heirloom seed catalog, this thesis explores how produce seeds and mushroom cultures become things that are known through place and practice. Planting a seed or inoculating a culture is not a simple action, but one imbued with intention, hope and even revolution.

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