Olive trees in the more-than-human Anthropocene

Research in Progress Seminar with Fabio Gatti
PhD student

Fabio Gatti

PhD candidate in the Global Epistemologies and Ontologies (GEOS) research project of the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group, Wageningen University.

Profile Fabio Gatti
Thursday 10 Mar 2022, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Room 4.39
International Institute of Social Studies
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Please send an email to Jessica Pernozzoli if you would like to attend this event.

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In this Research in Progress Seminar entitled 'Contested knowledge, ontological conflicts, and olive trees in the Plantationocene: multi-species entanglements in the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome in Apulia, Southern Italy', Fabio Gatti investigates the threat to the Italian olive farming sector caused by disease outbreak.

Over the past few years, thousands of olive trees in the Southern Italian region of Apulia dried out and the whole olive farming sector was put seriously under threat.

Despite having being framed mainly as a technical problem related to the spread of a quarantine pathogen known as Xylella fastidiosa, the outbreak has deeply social, cultural, environmental and political causes that have been mostly overlooked:

  • the abandoning of the countryside and of the 'good agricultural practices' over historically shaped monocultural landscapes by local farmers
  • the excessive use of pesticides and herbicides in the last decades
  • the broader agrarian change fostered by global political economical forces of globalization.

Creating the perfect playground for the spread of the disease

These created the perfect playground for Xylella fastidiosa to spread widely and, more importantly, to occupy the centre of the political stage.

The case is thus emblematic of the fact that 'the agrarian composes, and is composed by, complex spatial and temporal assemblages as well as social and cultural relations, which are fundamentally human and nonhuman' (Galvin 2018: 234).

Fabio Gatti

By making use of ethnographic material, combined with semi-structured and narrative interviews as well as the analysis of secondary data, and bridging discussions related to critical agrarian studies and political ecology with STS, anthropology and post-humanist disciplines such as environmental humanities, Gatti aims to provide a multi-species ethnography of the Xylella fastidiosa outbreak in Southern Italy and to highlight the complex interspecies relationships that, over space and time, have shaped and keep shaping olive farming practices and Apulian landscapes.

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The Research in Progress seminars provide an informal venue for presentations of ongoing research by ISS scholars and scholars from the wider development studies community.

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