João Prates Ruivo
This research project investigates the mobilisation of soils as a laboratory for economic, juridical, and environmental experiments that enabled the transition from colonial forms of power towards neoliberal governance. From the perspective of what I term “soil politics”, colonisation operates through the land, and continues to materialise in the present with the modification of soil’s chemical properties. In particular, I focus the project on the global soil surveys initiated after the Second World War by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as a defining moment in the transformation of land from earthly matter into a techno-scientific assemblage, invested with the capacity to organise and unsettle modes of life. Through a combined analysis of cartographic and archival sources, interviews, and field work I examine the consequences of the implementation of the surveys’ directives at different scales in the present-day, to inquire into what the Soil Map of the World represents when experienced from the ground.