2022 Winner: Uprooted: (Un)Natural Histories of Eucalyptus in California

Project Information
Uprooted: (Un)Natural Histories of Eucalyptus in California
Social Sciences
ANTH 199 Independent Study
This paper examines the debris of colonial projects and their ongoing effects upon the world through the historical and ethnographic study of eucalyptus plantations in California. These now-naturalized trees were imported and planted in vast 19th century projects of landscape transformation by colonists recently arrived in California. But these plantations were doomed by their own design, and the millions of established trees deemed useless. Soon abandoned, their supposedly valueless ruins are productive places of debris-making, where insects, diseases, fires, and concepts proliferate and collide. This paper utilizes and builds upon the conceptual framework of several scholars who work on processes of Anthropogenic world-making, including Alfred Crosby, Tomaz Mastnak, Julia Elyachar, Tom Boellstorff, Ann Laura Stoler, and Anna Tsing. Through paying attention to these ecological and semiotic landscapes of ruin through theoretical and historical research and site visits, this paper works to undo universalizing processes of landscape abstraction and rediscover unexpected knowledge about the places we live in, informing how we might move forward in a world filled with diverse ruins.
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  • Ciara Catherine Clarke (Kresge)