Alyssa Paredes, LSA Collegiate Fellow in Anthropology, Awarded Political Ecology Society's (PESO) Eric Wolf Prize
Alyssa Paredes, LSA Collegiate Fellow in Anthropology, has won the Political Ecology Society's (PESO) Eric Wolf Prize for her paper entitled, "Weedy Activism: Women, Plants, and the Genetic Pollution of Urban Japan." The Eric Wolf Prize, named after the pioneer Marxist anthropologist (and former Chair of Michigan's Department of Anthropology), is awarded for the "best article-length paper based in substantive field research that makes an innovative contribution to political ecology." The award is accompanied by a cash prize, a presentation at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and publication in a forthcoming issue of the The Journal of Political Ecology. An abstract of Alyssa's paper is below.
Abstract: Along the ports of Japan, civilians have made a peculiar discovery: in a country where genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation is prohibited, wild canola weeds flourishing in the cracks of sidewalks are exhibiting the GM trait of herbicide resistance to Monsanto’s infamous glyphosate. Able to enter the archipelagic country via unregulated channels and to cross-pollinate with locally grown crops, the weeds threaten to make inroads into the food system in ways unbeknownst to human actors. Among the most vocal of groups responding to this urban ecological threat are Japanese women and mothers involved in consumer co-operative systems. This article documents the emergence of their activism to demonstrate how situated and transformative political praxis is key to the political ecological study of human-plant encounters. It does so by interrogating the notion of weedy activism as a way to see plants not only as the object of political action, but also as a conceptual heuristic for understanding the kinds of political subjects that emerge in interaction with local environments.