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Greenhouse & Garden: Western Sphereology & Other Genealogies of Nature, Culture, & Technics

1. Cosmological Perspectivism While on one of my intermittent trips to Karachi, Pakistan, during the summer of 2018 while on a visiting scholarship at a local university, I had an interesting conversation on sustainability with a cab driver who had been conscripted to drop me at the other end of the city where I had to commute for work. Over the hour-long drive, the driver, Ishrat, and I chatted about how farmers in the rural heartlands of Sindh, where he was from, could no longer plant crops according to previous cycles, and how there has been uncertainty regarding the rains in the last few years, since the monsoons no longer arrive with the certainty that was once one of their defining traits. He then pointed to a row of trees that lined the median that separated the two halves of the highway we were on. "These are American trees, as you can see", he says, "planted just a few years ago. They're part of the reason for why the rains are always late to arrive now." I asked him why, and he explained: "These trees have roots that go deep into the earth and pull water from the wells underground, hence, they do not ask Allah for rain. They do not pray to the Lord like our trees do, for their keepers are godless people." He talks about how the native neem 1 trees of the neighborhood he lived in in Karachi, Safoora Goth, were uprooted over several development projects and replaced with imported trees-apparently, around 200,000 of them. "If you sleep under these trees, your dreams will be restless, and you will wake up to itch-our neem trees, on the other hand, make one feel refreshed and draw away all your ailments", he suggested. On my prompting, he talked for a bit about different kinds of trees and their respective properties, mentioning the prophet Khizr as the one who could talk to all forms of plants. They look nice for now, but they will not survive long in this soil", he reflected. In conversations like the one described above, what struck me was the departure from, and refusal of, familiar, hegemonic Anglo-Eurocentrisms about the nature of reality and of relating to nature, exposed in everyday conversations. Contrary to how the human's relation to environment and nature, unmediated by the sacred or divine, they exposed an understanding of nature not as inanimate, inert, as finite reserves there to be used by humans, but as 1 Azadirachta Indica, or Indian Lilac, is a tree commonly found throughout the Indian subcontinent, known for the lush, rich smell of its bark and flowers and its many medicinal uses-most notably, for the widespread use of its twigs to make natural toothbrushes, and as a form of birth control among indigenous women.
January 1, 2020

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History of the Human Sciences
History of the Human Sciences
Greenhouse & Garden