Special Issue "Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society"

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A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. John Charles Ryan

CREATEC Research Group, School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mount Lawley, Western Australia 6050, Australia
Phone: +61 08 9370 6454
Interests: ecocultural studies; Australian and American ecocriticism; cultural history of Australian flora; environmental philosophy; environmental writing; practice-led research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue of Societies, Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society, invites contributions from scholars from a range of disciplines, theoretical positions and methodologies to advance current understandings of the role of plants in society. Once considered passive automatons or mere materials for human use, plants are now known to be more complex than science since Linnaeus and aesthetics since Baumgarten have conceived. New currents in human-plant studies have emerged recently with Matthew Hall’s ‘philosophical botany’, Michael Marder’s ‘critical plant studies’ and human-plant geographies. Moreover, advances in multispecies theory, particularly Latourian actor-network concepts, present new grounds for reconceptualising the way in which ethnobotanical research is conducted. Case studies are welcome and possible subthemes include:

  • new directions in ethno-, economic and medical botany
  • plant-based cultural heritages and social practices
  • native/exotic and domestic/wild binaries
  • communities, conservation and plant ethics
  • botanical aesthetics, art and phenomenology
  • transdisciplinary botanical research
  • spiritual ecologies of plants

Dr. John Charles Ryan
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • plants
  • landscape
  • environmental sociology
  • folklore
  • ethnobotany
  • economic botany
  • critical plant studies
  • philosophical botany
  • cultural botany
  • transdisciplinarity

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle “Not Really a Musical Instrument?” Locating the Gumleaf as Acoustic Actant and Environmental Icon
Societies 2013, 3(2), 224-242; doi:10.3390/soc3020224
Received: 4 April 2013 / Revised: 9 May 2013 / Accepted: 14 May 2013 / Published: 29 May 2013
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Abstract
Leaf instruments have occupied a post-European contact role in constituting Australian societal networks, and their epistemologies reflect native/exotic binaries in the species selected by Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians respectively. Accordingly, this essay examines some musical applications of native plant populations in the [...] Read more.
Leaf instruments have occupied a post-European contact role in constituting Australian societal networks, and their epistemologies reflect native/exotic binaries in the species selected by Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians respectively. Accordingly, this essay examines some musical applications of native plant populations in the construction of arboreally-based cultural heritages and social traditions in the southeastern Aboriginal societies. In a broad characterisation of the practices of Indigenous leaf players (“leafists”), it extends the actor-network framework of “reaching out to a plant” established by John C. Ryan in 2012. When leafists play tunes on plants—either at their own source, or on leaves intentionally plucked for performance—music furnishes an intimate and vital part of their reflection to and from the nonhuman world. The author conceptualises eucalypt leaf instruments (“gumleaves”) as actants and iconic sensors of place, providing further evidence for their role as conduits between land and people in some cultural blendings and positionings with art, drama, and poetry. This interrogation of confluences between musicians and Australian land and plants works towards more nuanced understandings of the complex interlinked systems of music, ecology, nature, and societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)
Open AccessArticle Knowing Apples
Societies 2013, 3(2), 217-223; doi:10.3390/soc3020217
Received: 16 April 2013 / Revised: 15 May 2013 / Accepted: 16 May 2013 / Published: 24 May 2013
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Abstract
This essay employs a first-person fictional narrator to explore the nature of human-plant relations through the example of Thoreau’s Wild Apples and enacts the transformational process necessary to write in conjunction with non-conscious vegetal life by paying attention to the unthought known [...] Read more.
This essay employs a first-person fictional narrator to explore the nature of human-plant relations through the example of Thoreau’s Wild Apples and enacts the transformational process necessary to write in conjunction with non-conscious vegetal life by paying attention to the unthought known of the vegetative soul. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)
Open AccessArticle A War of Words: Do Conflict Metaphors Affect Beliefs about Managing “Unwanted” Plants?
Societies 2013, 3(2), 158-169; doi:10.3390/soc3020158
Received: 10 February 2013 / Revised: 17 March 2013 / Accepted: 18 March 2013 / Published: 26 March 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (280 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Woody plants have increased in density and extent in rangelands worldwide since the 1800s, and land managers increasingly remove woodland plants in hopes of restoring pre-settlement conditions and/or improved forage for grazing livestock. Because such efforts can be controversial, especially on publicly [...] Read more.
Woody plants have increased in density and extent in rangelands worldwide since the 1800s, and land managers increasingly remove woodland plants in hopes of restoring pre-settlement conditions and/or improved forage for grazing livestock. Because such efforts can be controversial, especially on publicly owned lands, managers often attempt to frame issues in ways they believe can improve public acceptance of proposed actions. Frequently these framing efforts employ conflict metaphors drawn from military or legal lexicons. We surveyed citizens in the Rocky Mountains region, USA, about their beliefs concerning tree-removal as a management strategy. Plants targeted for removal in the region include such iconic tree species as Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine as well as other less-valued species, such as Rocky Mountain juniper, that are common targets for removal nationwide. To test the influence of issue frame on acceptance, recipients were randomly assigned surveys in which the reason for conifer removal was described using one of three terms often employed by invasive biologists and land managers: “invasion”, “expansion”, and “encroachment”. Framing in this instance had little effect on responses. We conclude the use of single-word frames by scientists and managers use to contextualize an issue may not resonate with the public. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)
Open AccessArticle Seeing Green: The Re-discovery of Plants and Nature’s Wisdom
Societies 2013, 3(1), 147-157; doi:10.3390/soc3010147
Received: 17 February 2013 / Revised: 7 March 2013 / Accepted: 11 March 2013 / Published: 15 March 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (100 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this article, I endeavor to recount the odd history of how we have come to perceive plants like we do, and illustrate how plants themselves perceive and sense the world and, most importantly, what they can tell us about Nature. Through [...] Read more.
In this article, I endeavor to recount the odd history of how we have come to perceive plants like we do, and illustrate how plants themselves perceive and sense the world and, most importantly, what they can tell us about Nature. Through examples of the ingenious ways plants have evolved to thrive, I engage the idea that our modern society is afflicted by a severe disorder known as plant blindness, a pervasive condition inherited from our forefather Aristotle and accountable for the current state of vegetal disregard and hence environmental dilapidation. I propose that the solution to this state of affairs rests in a radical change of perspective, one that brings the prevailing, yet defective, Aristotelian paradigm together with its expectations on how Nature should behave to an end. Enacted, such change releases us into a new experience of reality, where the coherent nature of Nature is revealed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)
Open AccessArticle Of Plants, and Other Secrets
Societies 2013, 3(1), 16-23; doi:10.3390/soc3010016
Received: 1 December 2012 / Revised: 20 December 2012 / Accepted: 21 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
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Abstract
In this article, I inquire into the reasons for the all-too-frequent association of plants and secrets. Among various hypotheses explaining this connection from the standpoint of plant morphology and physiology, the one that stands out is the idea that plants are not [...] Read more.
In this article, I inquire into the reasons for the all-too-frequent association of plants and secrets. Among various hypotheses explaining this connection from the standpoint of plant morphology and physiology, the one that stands out is the idea that plants are not only objects in the natural environment, but also subjects with a peculiar mode of accessing the world. The core of the “plant enigma” is, therefore, onto-phenomenological. Positively understood, the secret of their subjectivity leaves just enough space for the self-expression and the self-interpretation of vegetal life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society)

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