Not-Quite-American Chestnuts: Engaging Poststructural Epistemologies in NatureSociety Research
Keywords:research design chestnut, axes of difference, multiple realities, description, socioecology, scholarship, poststructural epistemology
AbstractThis article presents a research design that examines how the production of a not-quite-American chestnut articulates across multiple axes of difference. The chestnut was rendered virtually extinct by an invasive blight in the early 1900s, but plant breeders have now produced blight-resistant trees that are 15/16 ‘American’ and 1/16 ‘Chinese.’ Using a series of moments across space-time, I suggest a way to study the species as a gathering together of multiple realities rather than a fixed and coherent entity. More broadly, this article advocates for research strategies that address the messy relations within and between species without recourse to totalizing explanations or mere description. I also contend that critical geographers emphasizing multiple socioecological realities have a responsibility to explore the ontological politics of these realities and to consider what types of worlds our own scholarship helps to enact.
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