Soil Fiction

Nathalie Blanc

Soils were long seen as an inert and static medium, an inexhaustible resource and infinitely manipulable material, whereas in reality, they are a moving milieu that has been rendered fragile by human activity. Soil provides a living environment for many animal and plant species and supports a rich diversity of landscapes and genetic reserves.

As well as being rich in cultural and social portent, it also hosts human activities, conserves archaeological remains and traces of past climates and biology, serves as a source of building and combustible materials, minerals and pigments.

In order to renew both our ties and a fruitful dialogue with the earth, “soil fictions” attempt to forge links between the diverse related disciplines and domains, such as the natural and social sciences, arts and crafts. There are currently numerous co-existing ways of focusing on – without necessarily exchanging views on – the soil, ranging from the study of soil fauna and flora to fertilisation rituals (Roberts, 2016, p. 367). "Soil fiction" therefore takes the form of an imaginary soil "researcher" lab that displays a range of experiments based around various types of soil expertise. It results from a collective exploration and is presented as a living experiment and visual, sound and olfactory journey that allows everyone to ask questions about our urban soil(s).

Keywords: soil, fiction, fertilisation, reenchantment
Genealogies: science fiction
Antonyms: air fiction, soil science
Synonyms: ground tales

Roberts, Rose, Williams, Lewis. (2016). Radical Human Ecology: Intercultural and Indigeneous approaches. Routledge: London.

Contribution to the creation of a "laboratory of sustainable culture" in Chamarande which consisted of collaborative residences between artists and scientists on the theme of soil. The issue of soils is at the heart of the current climatic challenges. On this theme, and in conjunction with COP21, the Domaine de Chamarande has been working for a year in collaboration with an artistic and scientific group COAL (coalition for art and sustainable development) which selected two artists - Yesenia Thibault-Picazo and Anaïs Tondeur, and three scientists - Marine Legrand, Germain Meulemans and Alan Vergnes. Project sponsored by Nathalie Blanc, geographer associated with the Laboratory of Social Dynamics and Recomposition of Spaces (LADYSS). For further info see here

COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

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With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

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Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

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New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

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New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more

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New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more


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