Designing the Future in Palestine

Noura Erakat in the Boston Review:

Vivien Sansour is excited about wheat. More than 10,000 years ago, she explains, visionaries in the fertile crescent domesticated it and began to transform it into the croissants, pitas, and baguettes that feed the world today. Sansour studies seeds as a way to “design new things the way that [her] ancestors did.” In 2014 she founded the Heirloom Seed Library and then spent the next four years searching for heirloom varieties for preservation and propagation. Many of these seeds, all indigenous to Palestine, are threatened because of colonial regulation of Palestinian lands and lives. Israel has forced other species onto Palestinian farmers for the sake of efficiency and scale, though it maintains one of the largest heirloom seed libraries at the Arava Institute. While the institute maintains an experimental orchard, the seeds themselves are off-limits to farmers. Sansour insists that while the settler sovereign “took our seeds away from us, they don’t have the story and the system of knowledge associated with the seed.”

More here.