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“There Are No Seeds Here”: Severing Seed Sovereignty in Mae La Refugee Camp

October 2, 2023 @ 3:35 pm - 5:00 pm

Dr. Terese Gagnon, a post-doctoral fellow with the Bringing Southeast Asia Home project and housed in the Department of Anthropology, will give the first UNC Anthropology Colloquium of the year.

In this talk I illustrate the ways in which the process of becoming refugees in Mae La refugee camp, technically a “temporary shelter”, severs Indigenous seed sovereignty and inter-generational agricultural memory for forcibly displaced Karen people. This severing occurs in the camp in large part through agricultural forgetting: the process by which linkages between people and plants are broken generationally. Along with dispossession and exile, such enforced forgetting is facilitated by the enclosure of the commons and commercialization. I argue that agricultural forgetting emerges in especially forceful ways in the camp, where the ruptures caused by displacement clear the slate for new more-than-human social arrangements. Such an account of agriculture in the camp is a necessary corrective to upbeat discourses of livelihoods programs promoting refugee ‘self-reliance’. This is because livelihoods programs and their discourse of self-reliance in the context of closed encampment obscure the enforced forgetting taking place across generations in this space of exception.

A Flyer for Dr. Terese Gagnon's talk, "There are No Seeds Here"


October 2, 2023
3:35 pm - 5:00 pm
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Howell Hall, Room 115
231 E. Cameron Ave
Chapel Hill, NC, NC 27514 United States
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The Carolina Asia Center supports diverse Asia-related events. However, CAC co-sponsorship of any talk, seminar, documentary screening, film screening, performance or celebration does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein. As an academic institution, we value diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding.

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