Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
The municipality of Sandino is a former agricultural frontier which was turned into a model of socialist rural development, with gigantic citrus plantations and an agro-industrial complex intended for export production for the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, the plantation economy collapsed and the land was taken over by a thorny and invasive shrub the marabú (dichrostachys cinerea), which has been invading fallow lands all over Cuba. Marabú is very difficult to eradicate and jeopardizes intents to use the land for agriculture. Marabu’s proliferation is a naturalcultural phenomenon (Haraway, 2008) made of complex assemblages of humans and non-humans agencies. All these relations are complex and unequal in terms of scale and power. I will distinguish several intertwined webs of relations. One web links viruses, citrus, state farms politics, workers’ Eigen-sinn (Lüdtke 1996), international markets and geopolitics that concur to ruins the plantation. Another is made of ambiguous instrumental and care relations that assemble weeds, cows, peasants, party members and local networks of the informal economy. After describing ethnographically these webs of relations I propose to go further and consider how these relations and these webs of relations become articulate as structures and infrastructures. I argue that telling the story of this territory and its relations of production by an invasive species helps to go beyond simplistic explanations in terms of the failure of socialist planning to understand why state action has been unable to revive agriculture in Sandino so far.