Next Article in Journal
The Place of Disgust: Disability, Class and Gender in Spaces of Workfare
Previous Article in Journal
Circuits of Memory: The War Memory Boom in Western Australia
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Passive Flora? Reconsidering Nature’s Agency through Human-Plant Studies (HPS)

School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mount Lawley, Western Australia 6050, Australia
Societies 2012, 2(3), 101-121;
Received: 5 July 2012 / Revised: 7 August 2012 / Accepted: 10 August 2012 / Published: 14 August 2012
PDF [762 KB, uploaded 14 August 2012]


Plants have been—and, for reasons of human sustenance and creative inspiration, will continue to be—centrally important to societies globally. Yet, plants—including herbs, shrubs, and trees—are commonly characterized in Western thought as passive, sessile, and silent automatons lacking a brain, as accessories or backdrops to human affairs. Paradoxically, the qualities considered absent in plants are those employed by biologists to argue for intelligence in animals. Yet an emerging body of research in the sciences and humanities challenges animal-centred biases in determining consciousness, intelligence, volition, and complex communication capacities amongst living beings. In light of recent theoretical developments in our understandings of plants, this article proposes an interdisciplinary framework for researching flora: human-plant studies (HPS). Building upon the conceptual formations of the humanities, social sciences, and plant sciences as advanced by Val Plumwood, Deborah Bird Rose, Libby Robin, and most importantly Matthew Hall and Anthony Trewavas, as well as precedents in the emerging areas of human-animal studies (HAS), I will sketch the conceptual basis for the further consideration and exploration of this interdisciplinary framework. View Full-Text
Keywords: plants; society; environmental philosophy; human-animal studies plants; society; environmental philosophy; human-animal studies

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Ryan, J.C. Passive Flora? Reconsidering Nature’s Agency through Human-Plant Studies (HPS). Societies 2012, 2, 101-121.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Societies EISSN 2075-4698 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top