Planting the seeds of a quiet activism

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While traditional academic accounts of activism emphasise vocal, antagonistic and demonstrative forms of protest, geographers have begun to expand the category of activism to include modest, quotidian acts of kindness, connection and creativity. This paper outlines ‘quiet activism’ as small, everyday, embodied acts, often of making and creating, that can be either implicitly or explicitly political in nature. This concept is explored with seed savers, gardeners who cultivate fruits and vegetables and then select and save seed to provide future generations of plants for themselves and others. It draws on ethnographic research with individuals involved in a national seed conservation network (The Heritage Seed Library) and a local seed swap event (Seedy Sunday, Brighton) in the UK . These organisations connect individual seed savers and frame their quiet acts of growing and sharing as part of a broad movement to conserve biodiversity and challenge the corporate control of food and seed systems. The paper unpicks the implications of embodied activisms performed at varying volumes, and it highlights the need for scholars to attend to the differing embodiments called for by various modes of activism in order to trace their particular impacts, emotions and affects. The experiences of seed savers elucidate the particular power of small and quiet acts of making and doing to critique, subvert and rework dominant modes of production and consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Early online date11 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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