Living with pests, pets and plants: co-habitation in contemporary gardens
(University of Gothenburg)
Carina Sjöholm (Lund University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will discuss the co-habitation of humans, animals and plants in contemporary home gardens in Sweden. Approaching both human and non-human actors as biosocial becomings, we will look at the intermingled processes that make the garden a home to many kinds of living organisms.
Paper long abstract:
The private garden can be regarded as an important part of the house-owner's home, but it is also the home of many other living organisms. Birds and mammals, insects, worms and not least plants live their lives intermingled in the contemporary human habitations of single-house suburbs. Thus, home gardens provide plenty of material to reflect on and handle biodiversity and sustainability issues in relation to modern lifestyle. The co-habitation of humans, animals and plants is in some cases a well-planned human arrangement, as in the case of pets and cultivated plants. In other cases there is an on-going struggle between gardeners and non-human intruders, so-called "pests" and "weeds". In yet other cases, co-existing non-human neighbours might be unknown and unnoticed by the human inhabitants of the garden. In a recent research project we have examined interactions between people, plants, animals and other actors in contemporary home gardens in Sweden. This paper will focus on the co-habitation of humans, animals and plants, in vernacular gardens. Inspired by Tim Ingold, we understand both human and non-human actors as biosocial becomings rather than beings. In the garden, biosocial humans and biosocial plants constantly interact with each other, as well as with other actors and becomings. Based on our informants' accounts, we conclude that the home garden is an important place for everyday interactions and negotiations around concepts such as nature. To live with a garden is to influence and be influenced by an environment; to form it and be formed by it.
Shared spaces: perspectives on animal architecture