Lunch seminar by William Ellis: Knowing plants and states of knowing

Kalahari treeThis seminar is an interrogation of the various ways in which knowledge about plants has been generated in ethnobotanical studies. The examination begins with broader questions of how plant knowledge is located in and understood in traditional studies of plants. The seminar attempts to think at the limits of plant studies where related concepts like Anthropocene and planetary, worry the certainties felt in philosophy. It also examines the orthodoxies of knowledge transfer and suggests an alternate set of transfer lines. The seminar moves on to specifically show that many plant practitioners do not only understand the acquisition of plant knowledge as a simple intellectual matter or one of mere curiosity. Rather the production of plant knowledge requires particular body and psychic states that enable access to deeper and hidden plant knowledge. These states are “known” to plants who can choose to reveal to plant practitioners or not. Lastly, it concludes with an argument about plants and magic. Plant blindness, it is argued, holds the key to reading the magical properties of plants and in part suggests their occult and esoteric uses and agentivity.

This lunch seminar is organized in the framework of the ASC: Collaborative Research Group 'Trans-species perspectives on African studies'.
Dr Harry Wels will chair the seminar.

You are welcome to bring your own lunch. Coffee/tea will be served.

Dr William Ellis works at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of the Western Cape, and is a Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research. In 1995 he began working in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology as a tutorial assistant; subsequently in 1998 he began teaching on the undergraduate programme in the department. Over the last eight years (2004-2012) he has been working in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology as the Tutorial Programme Coordinator and as a lecturer. Prior to this (1999-2003) he worked as a research fellow at the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS). As a Research fellow at PLAAS he was involved in doing fieldwork among the Khomani San of the Southern Kalahari. This research served as the basis for his PhD dissertation titled “Genealogies and Narratives of San authenticities”.

Date, time and location

06 July 2018
13.00 - 14.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 3A06 (third floor)