337 Claudia Cohen Hall
Waste, Salvage, and the Contradictory Logics of Agro-biodiversity Preservation
Department of History
This talk explores scenes from international agro-biodiversity preservation expeditions in the former USSR and the Middle East. Collectors target locally adapted varieties of cultivated seeds and crop wild relatives for ex-situ preservation and research into climate-hardy crops. These expeditions are aspects of fraught attempts to plan for a variety of political and environmental disasters through the construction and administration of a network of internationally managed gene banks. This research is drawn from a project exploring the politics of biodiversity, including the ways theories of plant origin support varied projects of collection, preservation, and research and development. I analyze the multiple and at times contradictory logics motivating preservation initiatives, which are byproducts of Cold War projects to increase food security and of environmental movements to protect diversity imperiled by those same projects.