Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
Ecovillages, kinds of intentional communities with a deliberate focus on integrating human and ecological systems, have proliferated throughout Mexico in recent years. Ecovillages have begun to be considered models for sustainable rural development (LeVasseur 2013, Litfin 2016), and often serve functions within their broader bioregions as sites for experimentation with alternative agricultural techniques, environmental education programming, and conservation and reforestation projects. While ecovillages are planned and designed with a host of ecological relationships in mind, certain nonhumans are nevertheless valorized (due to ecological services performed, cultural significance, economic value, or emotional attachment), a process which obscures other ecological relationships on which these key human-nonhuman relationships hinge. Based on fieldwork in two ecovillages in Veracruz and Yucatan, Mexico, this paper focuses on two groups of insects - dung beetles and stingless bees - addressing their roles in complicating or complementing ecovillagers’ visions for a “sustainable” socioecological system. In particular, beetles’ relationships with manure, the pasture animals that provide it, and other microfauna in the soil challenge attempts to manage land in a “biodynamic way”, while interactions among different kinds of native bee species and the plants they pollinate complicate plans to develop sustainable food and economic systems. A focus on beetles and bees as nonhuman actors, while also considering their own forms of sociality, reveals the ways that other nonhuman actors are implicated in their ostensible “resistance” to participate in our plans for them.