Title: Plants talking and what we hear Invasives, injurious and poisonous to livestock, contaminators of wool, competitors of crops and pastures, and carriers of disease. Invaders of native ecosystems, foreigners who reduce biodiversity and degrade water quality. Preventers of regeneration who exclude natives. Impactors on human health causing allergies. Can be poisonous. They are declared pests!
These are quotes from Australian government websites about plants that have been demonised and vilified as ‘weeds’. At a recent Weed's Network Landcare road tour, a member of the audience became very emotional when discussing Tropical soda apple, calling it "Evil". He urged people to fight this “wicked plant”. The Tropical soda apple in this man’s narrative took on humanlike characteristics capable of intentions, that is, to be ‘evil’. By name-calling, we personalise and characterise plants. We turn plants into beings with personality with whom we can interact in accordance with the character/personality we have assigned to them. By characterising Tropical soda apple as Evil, we then interact with the plant ‘as if’ it is an evil entity and any means we choose in dealing with it is therefore justified. Chemical warfare is justified and collateral damage becomes part of the necessary price. In this paper, I explore plants’ abilities to communicate and have intentions, and whether they are truly ‘evil’, or simply misunderstood. Working within the frameworks of New Materialism, I examine what conversations may be taking place between humans and non-humans. [Zheljana Peric (2014). Plants talking and what we hear. ASLEC-ANZ Fifth Biennial Conference, "Affective Habitus", Canberra, 19-21 June 2014. ] Click here to read the full paperComment.