Eva Rose Steinberg

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10732

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Steinberg, Eva (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Seeding the Future: Biodiversity, Adaptability, and Breeding Resilient Food Systems in a Changing Southeast"

This research examines the tensions between environmental preservation and adaptation by asking: How is biodiversity manipulated in anticipation of uncertain futures? I focus on four guiding questions: (1) How are plantation and colonial legacies manifest in southeastern seedways? (2) What valences of biodiversity are present in southeastern food systems? (3) How do plant breeders and seed savers use notions of purity and hybridity? (4) What affective registers are invoked in seed work? By participating in plant breeding projects, growing seeds with farmers, and working with the USDA germplasm bank, I study how these groups balance the need for adaptability with the need for stability as they attempt to plan for climate change. I draw from political ecology, science and technology studies, and affect theory to understand seeds as simultaneously biological and cultural. I contribute to the emerging field of critical ethnobotany, as I ask what social, economic, and political structures are reproduced alongside and through seed work. Additionally, my work is attuned to the temporality of seeds, as I look towards the historical conditions of possibility for plant breeding and the seed futures that seed growers, breeders, and stewards imagine and enact.