Compost politics: Experimenting with togetherness in vermicomposting

Emerging from the question of how to live together with our planet, more-than-human approaches to interspecies relations have often presented ‘cozy’ versions of conviviality (Whatmore 2002; Haraway 2008; Hinchliffe 2010). This was usually set against a (supposedly) exclusionary politics of nature, in a move that betrayed a still largely humanist ethics. From the focus on friendly companions, to the attention to practices of care or living-together, the notion of companion species and their entanglements with humans has been polarized towards a pleasant and ‘nice’ version of coexistence. But, dealing with composting, it becomes clear that relations with the environment are never so neat and clean. What are, then, the modes of being together with the ‘dirty’ side of the ‘green’? What practices emerge at the mundane interstices of the ‘big picture’ of a functional ecology? Wasting, eating, rotting, consuming, transforming and becoming-with are brought together in a variety of ways in practices of composting-with earthworms. Reporting on our own and others’ attempts to ‘live-together’ with earthworms, this paper tracks the non-relations and asymmetries of the transformations of more-than-human materialities inside (and outside) domestic composting bins. We argue that the example of living-together with dung earthworms sheds light on the interplays between attachment and detachment (Candea 2010), shifting the notion of conviviality from a green and comfortable ‘democratic collective’ (Latour 2004) to a messy, yet constantly productive and on-going coexistence.

 

 

 

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