From the field

I wake up around 4 in the morning, I know because the church bells toll, the cows know, they are restlessly moo-ing in the barn on the other side of the church. changing weather, lighting …thunder, coming our way, more changes to come. Beyond our imagination? Is the question. I know cows are smarter than we usually think, and wonder if they would move away if given the chance. The new IPCC report crosses my mind, climate change will spare none of us is the general gist. Nothing to be optimistic about, downfall imminent. For, the last half decade, economic profit has been prioritized in any decision making. Who says humans are the smart ones.

 I think about  the fields around the small village,, some of the potato plants strangely orange- brown, prematurely dying leaves, but also efforts to incorporate places for meadow birds further afield, awareness is growing, finally.  And the fields spark a memory, my first dissertation research topic that never made it … 

From the ‘archives’

It seems research was more straightforward back in the days, but maybe that is a twisted form of nostalgia. Study a topic and making sure you read all the dominant contributors in the field, the pro and contra of the angle you wish to pursue. Now there is so much information available and the connections endless, but has helped us to finally acknowledge that our role in the changing climate is undeniable. Denial has been a long-term strategy, one that the biggest polluters have used ever since the first clear signs of our (self)-destructive behavior became apparent in the 1970’s. 

It is not that civilizations have never declined, they all do, this time however it is at global scale. In fact, my initially proposed research focused on a cause of decline around 1450 AD of the site of Casas Grandes/Paquime in the Chihuahuan desert in present day, Northern Mexico. I wished to test an idea, of then recently published  scientific research on how a certain size of field of mono-culture crop, would cause local atmospheric circulation (read: rainfall patterns) to change, a tipping point of size. If true, this would not only contribute to archaeological research, but would have implications for modern day agriculture. The proposal was denied, vague reasons, and I went on to do something else controversial. The eerie thing was that the research I based my idea on, disappeared from the records. 

At first I thought it was a fluke, until I began to read about similar cases. First in the book Cradle to Cradle, and I began to suspect that whenever science and especially certain scientist made headway into real change, a different way of thinking about our future, they were stopped in their tracks. Corporate funding krept into science, research embedded in the neoliberal program. It is not a happy thought. I have no idea how this plays out globally, I am not optimistic, but not desperate either. 

I recently returned to a research institute. As an archaeologist I am trained to create stories of other (past) worlds based on limited clues. I will offer my skills not in the archaeology department this time, but in art and design. Speculative design will be my focus, imagining other worlds, not just for our shared future, but parallel ones that have always been here, but ignored mostly. It will be even possible to imagine worlds where fields were never large scale mono-crop. where other cultural accomplishments not simply crushed and ignored, but nurtured into different ideas and hypotheses, different, pluralistic sciences. I gladly accept this assignment. Reverse Pluricide! 

La via Campesina – Artists for Food Sovereignty