• Post-Anthropozentrische Soziologie und Politische Ökologie
  • Umweltsoziologie 
  • Social Studies of Science and Technology (STS)
  • Feministische Theorie und Epistemologie
  • Biotechnologien und Biopolitik


Governing Agrobiodiversity: Inquiring the world/ings of ex situ seed conservation (working title)

In the wake of the mid-twentieth century global modernization of agriculture, a global ecological problem took shape that is conspicuously underrecognized by the public to this day: the loss of genetic diversity in agricultural plants. Transnational agropolitical actors such as the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) made ex situ conservation of plant genetic diversity in seed banks their core strategy to counteract agrobiodiversity loss and ensure future food security. However, seed banks and their stocks are exposed to a variety of threats ranging from natural disasters to wars and more mundane threats such as financial and capacity limits. The resulting need for a global backup system marked the birth of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV), an international backup storage facility established on the Arctic island of Spitzbergen in the Svalbard archipelago in 2008.

My PhD research is an inquiry into the world of agrobiodiversity conservation, starting from the SGSV, which I consider as a nodal point of global ex situ conservation efforts. Based on ethnographic field research, qualitative expert interviews, and document analysis, I explore the rationalities and more-than-human relationalities that make the world of agrobiodiversity conservation. Seed banking thus becomes discernible as not merely a technoscientific promise of salvation in the face of existential crisis, but rather as a technoscientific mode of world-making, of negotiating futurity between the poles of caring for and governing naturecultures. The theoretical environment that my research is situated in and contributes to reaches from post-anthropocentric approaches in sociology to feminist and decolonial science and technology studies to debates on political ontology.


Franziska von Verschuer

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Fachbereich 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Institut für Soziologie
Schwerpunkt Biotechnologie,
Natur und Gesellschaft

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