Accepted paper:

"Let's cultivate our gardens!" horticulture and utopia as local answers to global environmental threats in Hungary


Judit Kis-Halas (University of Pécs)

Paper short abstract:

Drawn on fieldwork data, the paper presents a case study from a Hungarian village. It illustrates how an esoteric book serial inspired a local community to start organic gardening. It highlights on the discourses about the concepts of Nature along with human - non-human relationships.

Paper long abstract:

The 1755 fatal Lisboa earthquake and the cruel seven-year war inspired Voltaire to reconsider Leibniz's optimistic thesis, rephrased by master Pangloss: all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Doubts similar to that of Voltaire arose in the vivid "end-of-the-World" discourses on the turn of 2011 and 2012, when various sensationalist predictions about threatening global environmental cataclysms were circulating in mass media in Hungary. Seemingly, Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Megre's best-selling series, The Ringing Cedars of Russia, offered a viable solution for many. Gaining inspiration from his personal encounters with a mysterious recluse and prophetess (named Anastasia) in the taiga, Megre outlined a grandiose vision of small, egalitarian, self-supporting communities living in harmony with an animated Nature on their own lands of common property. As the first volumes were translated to Hungarian in 2007 (e.g. soon after the Russian publication), by 2011 there had been several Anastasia-communities organized throughout Hungary. Drawn on fieldwork data the paper traces the processes, how Megre's utopian ideas were adopted, interpreted and then realized in a Hungarian village environment. Highlighting on the actual establishment of organic family gardens, the case study focuses on the revival of long-forgot (or just still hiding) knowledge in agriculture, and on the ways, how relationships between human and non-human agents of the ecosystem are redefined.

panel P004
Environmental crisis, humans and all others