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Tag: Humus economicus

Open Call: Soils as Sites of Emergency and Transformation, NESS Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden. Abstract deadline 15 Dec!

Dear soil friends, please consider joining us for “thinking with soils” workshop in Gothenburg, Sweden, 7-9 June 2022, as part of the Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference (NESS). Please note he short deadline for abstracts: 15 December 2021. Draft papers: 20 May 2022. The NESS format allows us to spend concentrated time in a small group of 12-15, meeting in half-day sessions over three consecutive days. Covid-19 permitting, we will hold this workshop in person. If you would like to participate but struggle with the short deadline for abstracts please get in touch!

Workshop chairs:

  • Anna Krzywoszynska, The University of Sheffield (
  • Daniel Münster, Oslo University (
  • Janna Holmstedt, National Historical Museums, Sweden (

Please send abstracts of 150-200 words using this link:

Background and urgency

The Covid-19 pandemic is seen by some as the latest warning against the intensity of intervention of human worlds into non-human processes and spaces. This latest emergency unfolds, however, against the background of the long and accelerating process of human-induced, global planetary and ecosystem change variously debated as the Anthropocene, the Capitalocene, or the Plantationcene.

The most lasting, the most fundamental, and the least address aspect of this ‘slow emergency’ and ongoing transformation relates to soils. When (rarely) discussed in the public sphere, soils are framed as an object of concern, and their degrading state is seen as a cause for alarm (as exemplified e.g. by the creation of the EU Mission for Soil Health and Food). In the Nordic context, soil emergencies are particularly noticeable as global heating-related changes in soil functions and states are having sudden and profound effects on lives, livelihoods, and land-use and inhabitation futures.

Such emergency framings which underpin policy and expert concern around soil change can, however, lack historical and ontological reflexivity around the desired human-soil relations. Beyond this emergency framing, soils are also a site of and a source of transformation. Both historically and today, soils are active participants in the making of human societies and of ecologies. Whereas loss of soils has been linked with societal collapse, reciprocal relations of care can transform societies and ecosystems. Moreover, in contemporary thinking in political and social theory (e.g. Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth, Donna Haraway’s thinking on composting), arts (e.g. the Humus economicus project), and in debates about sustainable farming (e.g. regenerative agriculture), relations with soils are a source of inspiration for new models of human-environmental interaction and for conceptualising more-than-human health. This new wave of ‘thinking with soils’ works across disciplinary boundaries to reconceptualise people, environments, and their interactions by acknowledging and interrogating human entanglement with soils.

Invitation: ‘a thinking with soils workshop’

We invite you to spend time together thinking through and getting to grips with our soil past, presents and futures in the context of the Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference (NESS) 7-9th June 2022. Covid-19 permitting, we will hold this workshop in person.

The NESS format allows us to spend concentrated time in a small group of 12-15, meeting in half-day sessions over three consecutive days. While the final format of our workshop depends on who responds to this call, we broadly envisage spending time in a structured manner discussing and workshopping one another’s ideas, and jointly discovering new directions of thought and forms of engagement. We envisage concluding the workshop by collaboratively building ‘a toolbox’ of ideas and practices for making the case for soils as societal actors.

As a workshop contributor, you are asked to share with others in the workshop group a paper (complete or in draft), a photo-essay, a movie (with accompanying essay), or a website (with accompanying essay) which you would like others to engage with. In the workshop, we will ask you to present this contribution very briefly, and to participate in a shared discussion on themes relating to the contribution. We will also ask you to read or view at least two other contributions and engage with them deeply in the workshop.

We ask you to share with us an abstract by 15th December 2021, and a full contribution (which can be a draft or working paper) by 20th May 2022. If you would like to participate but struggle with the short deadline for abstracts please get in touch!

Please send abstracts of 150-200 words using this link:

We broadly invite contributors to engage with the emergent thought on human-soil relations through the framing of emergency and transformation. This may include reflecting on the following questions, and related issues:

  • What are new, meaningful and interesting ways for thinking through current and past socio-ecological emergencies in relation to human-soil linkages?
  • How do soils or particular relations with soils contribute to the creation of emergencies, and how do they participate in transformations?
  • How can we transform current thinking about socio-ecological transformations by thinking with soils? What conceptual, affective, and ethical modes arise from soil engagements?
  • What forms of methodological and experimental practice can help us transform our thinking, or those of specific groups? What are emergent methodologies for a social science and humanities engagement with soils?
  • How are relations with soils and land drawn on and transformed in response to ecological and social emergencies, including economic and health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic?

We invite empirical and theoretical papers related to the theme, as well as artistic commentaries and interventions.

Further information from NESS conference organisers:

The NESS workshops follow a standing session format (similar to ECPR), which allows for substantive discussions on research in progress.  The conference invites scholars from multiple disciplinary backgrounds in environmental social science.  The overall objective of the workshop is to facilitate and encourage participation, equality and collaboration between younger and more established scholars.  Each paper is expected to relate to the theme of the workshop, and the participant submits and presents a paper (or work in progress) for the discussion.  Workshop participants will be asked to comment on at least one other paper in the respective workshop and participate in the general discussion of the other papers presented.  Participants should only choose and attend one workshop for the duration of the conference.  The ambition with this format is that the workshops allow for in-depth and coherent discussions of the respective themes and provide opportunity for potential joint publications or other continuing collaborations between the participants

Soil Blindness and the Value of “Dirt”, a Seminar on Ecological Economics, Soil Care, and Homemaking in Times of Transition

Humus Economicus Collaboratory, in association with The Posthumanities Hub, are happy to invite you to a seminar with Thomas Hahn, Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Åsa Ståhl & Mathilda Tham, Linneaus University, Sweden.

WHEN: Friday 10 September, 10:15-12:00 CEST

WHERE: Zoom (a link will be sent out after registration)

REGISTRATION:  Please register by sending an email to with the subject SOIL by 8th September 2021 at noon (CEST) the latest.


Ecology and economy share a Greek root, oikos, meaning “home” or “household”. In this seminar, we will take a closer look at both ecological economics and oikology to critically and creatively discuss what a transition from a Homo economicus mindset to a Humus economicus mode of thinking might entail, which strives to re-embed societies in soils and lands (Krzywoszynska and Marchesi 2020) while acknowledging that we all are utterly and positively soil dependent. Soils are an essential nexus between different spheres such as food, water, environment and energy. In addition, the health of people, plants, animals, and ecosystems is indivisible and intricately linked through soil health (Lal 2017, Evans et. al. 2021). Thus, soils are key to an integrated agenda for sustainability and a fair transition to more resilient societies. Soil health and biodiversity in turn depend on how we engage with soils, and the relations and collaborations we build with and around different kinds of soils in various local contexts. If we are to reap the benefits of the fast soil processes, it is vital to understand and care for soil biodiversity and the slow soil processes (Gu et. al. 2021). Yet, research has shown that economics is often the dominant criterion in sustainable soil management (Kik et. al. 2021), and short term interests is decisive in urban exploitation processes where rich soils are sealed and lost for future generations (Jordbruksverket 2017). To fully recognize soils’ importance in environment, economy and society, it might be generative to think of humans as part of a soil community, forming more-than-human soil cultures with responsibilities across generations. It is in this expanded sense that we will turn to oikology as a relational and locally engaged form of homemaking within planetary limits (Tham, Ståhl and Hyltén-Cavallius 2019) that once again links ecology and economy through oikos and an ethics of care.

The seminar is arranged by Humus Economicus Collaboratory, National Historical Museums, as part of the research project Humus economicus, funded by Formas, a Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, in association with The Posthumanities Hub, Linköping University.


Our guests today is Thomas Hahn, associate professor and principal researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre, Åsa Ståhl, senior lecturer in design & Mathilda Tham, professor in design at Linneaus University.

Thomas Hahn’s research focuses on ecological and institutional economics in relation to ecosystem services, climate action, green economy, sustainability transformation, and adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. With a background in agricultural economics, his research is inter- or even transdisciplinary, collaborating with stakeholders engaged in issues from biosphere reserves to climate justice. Hahn is also programme co-director for the 4-year programme, Fair Transformations to a Fossil Free Future FAIRTRANS, jointly funded by Mistra and Formas.

Åsa Ståhl combines participatory design with feminist technoscience in explorations and speculations of how to make and know liveable worlds. One such creative expression is the Un/Making Studio that she runs together with Kristina Lindström. Ståhl is also engaged in research, teaching and public outreach on how to produce and share surplus in and around domestic environments through participatory, speculative and lived experiences.

Mathilda Tham is a feminist, metadesigner and activist whose work through co-creative processes seeks to seed new legends and practices for how we can make our home together within Earth’s limits. She is co-founder of Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion and Co-author with Kate Fletcher of Earth Logic action research plan.


Evans, D. L., Janes-Bassett, V., Borrelli, P., Chenu, C., Ferreira, C. S. S., Griffiths, R. I., Kalantari, Z., Keesstra, S., Lal, R., Panagos, P., Robinson, D. A., Seifollahi-Aghmiuni, S., Smith, P., Steenhuis, T. S., Thomas, A., and Visser, S. M. (2021). Sustainable futures over the next decade are rooted in soil science. European Journal of Soil Science, 1–16. DOI:

Gu, Baojing, Deli Chen, Yi Yang, Peter Vitousek, and Yong-Guan Zhu (2021). Soil-Food-Environment-Health Nexus for Sustainable Development, Research 2021. DOI:

Jordbruksverket (2017). Exploatering av jordbruksmark 2011–2015. Rapport 2017:5

Kik, M.C., G.D.H. Claassen, M.P.M. Meuwissen, A.B. Smit, and H.W. Saatkamp (2021).

Actor analysis for sustainable soil management – A case study from the Netherlands, Land Use Policy 107. DOI:

Krzywoszynska, Anna and Greta Marchesi (2020). Toward a Relational Materiality of Soils: Introduction, Environmental Humanities 12 (1): 190–204. DOI:

Lal, R., Mohtar, R.H., Assi, A.T. et al. (2017) Soil as a Basic Nexus Tool: Soils at the Center of the Food–Energy–Water Nexus. Curr Sustainable Renewable Energy Rep 4, 117–129. DOI:

Tham, M., Å. Ståhl, and S. Hyltén-Cavallius (2019). Eds.  Oikology – Home Ecologics: a book about building and home making for permaculture and for making our home together on Earth. Växjö: Linnaeus University Press.

Humus economicus – Launching a four-year art and research project!

We’re happy to announce that The Posthumanities Hub researcher Dr. Janna Holmstedt has received a four-year research grant from Formas, a Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development for Humus economicus: Soil Blindness and the Value of “Dirt” in Urbanized Landscapes.

This art and research project inquiries into the value and future of soil in urbanized landscapes. It seeks to draw attention to radically altered human-soil relations, the invisible work of soils, and practices of soil care in a time when soils are sealed and degraded at rapid rates.

The research team consists of Janna Holmstedt (Pi), National Historical Museums, Sweden (SHM), Christina Fredengren, SHM, Malin Lobell, artist and gardener, Jenny Lindblad, KTH, Cecilia Åsberg, LiU, and Karin Wegsjö, filmmaker and director.

Through the Humus Economicus Collaboratory we will gather artists, scientists, environmental-, urban-, gender-, and heritage scholars, and connect with a growing number of soil stewards to counteract soil blindness, decolonize conceptualizations of nature, and transform public knowledge and imaginaries of soils.

The project explores how multiple forms of inheritance and potential futures meet in the subject of soil, and what societies that strive to be sustainable could learn from it.  Soils tie together political ecologies into conflict zones where nature and culture, human and non-human cannot easily be discerned and held apart. Humus economicus intends to stay with these troubles. It also recognizes that soil is not a charismatic other, as whales for example, which manages to mobilize empathy and action. Soil is rather uncharismatic and constitutes a wider form of bio-agency. How then, to call forth embodied knowledge of, and empathy with, an environment that to a large extent is invisible, difficult to grasp, uncharismatic, and which is being altered in anthropogenic ways?

Read more at the Humus economicus website!

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