Speakers: Olivia Angé - Université libre de Bruxelles
Date: 7 April 2023
Venue: Université de Liège


Tuberous Heroes, Partial Examples, and the (un)Making of Flourishing Potato Population


The history of capitalism features glorified characters, like Frederick the Great and Antoine Parmentier, lauded for contributing to national prosperity by purportedly introducing the prolific potato to the masses. This article furthers historians’ examination of potato heroes by turning attention to outstanding figures in the tuberous population. While many times disqualified as a humble crop, potato has been acknowledged to have “changed the World’s history”. Such contrasted esteem is highlighted by comparing potato values in capitalist agriculture with household plots in the Peruvian center of domestication. The concept of “partial example” is introduced to account for fragmented and situated tuberous appreciation in the Cuzco highlands in comparison to agro-industry and gene bank search for super crops. This article furthers recent scholarship in the Anthropology of ethics about the importance examples, highlighting the attuned creativity of partial virtuosity as compared to the elitism of vegetal heroes.