Speaker: Olivia Angé - Université libre de Bruxelles
Date: 8th March 2024 - 12:00
Venue: Università du Bologna, Italy

Human Potato Relatedness and Affective Attunement across Species in the Peruvian Highlands


Highland people in the Cuzco region of Peru eat so much potato that they are aware of their body as being made of this tuber. Not an ingredient to be passively absorbed, potatoes are related to humans in a reversible genealogy whereby they are both mother and child to their grower. Observing how this relation is enacted in practices highlights mutual nurturing as a key interaction that creates kinship. Nurturing entails the circulation of kusisqa, a Quechua notion of joy which complexifies an established conceptualization of affect as pre-reflexive reaction. Imbued with emotionality and self-reflexivity, potatoes’ contentment is a core concern for cultivators. A focus on affective attunement between humans and plant crops through labour and ingestion offers new perspectives on the substance of kinship and interspecies mutuality of being.