Juan Carlos Skewes Vodanovic

In my anthropology courses, trees and plants take on a relevance that is unknown to most of my students. How can I bring them closer to the life of plants and, particularly, to the life of plants and humans with whom they interact? What does the Microcosm give me? The possibility of navigating through the senses, first of all. The confocal images allow the discovery of the textures and colors of these green micro-companions. And to intuit the multiple readings to which they present themselves. With the speculative exercise undertaken, the task orients itself towards finding the double dimension of the plant as a biological and social being. I take, for example, Moesbach’s “sinister little tree,” the Latua pubiflora, the latue or the palo de brujo, and, with the help of Microcosms, I invite the students to discover its medicinal, ritual, and psychoactive properties. Microcosms gives us a navigation chart to deepen the repertoire of the possibilities of the social existence of a plant that arouses everything from contempt to ritual respect.

Juan Carlos Skewes Vodanovic, Professor, Universidad Alberto Hurtado (Chile). Currently, he is conducting the project “Lessons for Inhabiting the Future: The Peoples of Chile’s Central Andes Mountains in the Face of Climate Change and Extractivist Expansion” (funded by the Chilean agency of scientific research, Anid). His most recent book, La regeneración de la vida en los tiempos del capitalismo (The Regeneration of Life under Capitalism) (2019), deals with the cohabitation of local communities and their non-human fellows.

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