Dr Victoria Grieves (University of Sydney) will be giving the next Te Tumu seminar on “Working against nature: the plough as symbol of western progress and icon of Northern domination”.
This will be held in Cen3 (Central Library), on Wednesday 15 April 2015, 2.30pm – 3.30pm. Everyone is welcome.
Abstract: This paper argues that while the idea of the plough and of ploughing is embedded in western theory and discourse as an inherently good concept, the introduction of the plough and the beginnings of agriculture as we know it today is likely to be the beginning of the epoch now known as the Anthropocene. While the plough embodies all of the values of hard work, of thought and creativity, of respectability and of progress in western thought, as a tool of progress it has been used as a means of colonising and securing lands. The impact of this has been devastation to indigenous people and also to the natural world. Ploughing has had the effect of creating borders, of delineating colonised lands and enslaving men and animals to pull the blades through the soil. When recognised as such, the ploughs themselves have figured prominently in various ways in poor white and Indigenous dissent. Thus the plough works against nature rather than with nature. It has been convincingly theorised as an object of death and destruction of the natural world (Serres) and its impact on the collective issues that comprise climate change and the Anthropocene is profound.