Soil and agricultural production for centuries have shaped natural environment, everyday life, habits, spiritual and symbolic needs of producers and local communities. Concepts such as hard work, dignity, good name, or religious practices such as subsidiarity and ceremonial offerings for enhancing quality of soil and production had been developed through centuries of farming, setting up the basis of local agricultural ethics.

Although challenged in modern times, such ethics still persist in various forms. During this course, we will compare diverse ethical perceptions with particular attention to rural areas of Eastern Europe where a significant part of the population work in agriculture. This course reveals the complex, intertwined and often opposed ethical worlds of agricultural producers, rural communities, consumers, lawmakers, and technology developers. It tries to juxtapose micro and macro ethical perceptions related to soil and production. In doing so, we will tackle some of the longstanding problems concerning the roles and sovereignties of producers, of food supply and of food distribution in the production chain.

 The curriculum draws on theoretical discussions in environmental anthropology, economic anthropology, anthropology of ethics, and anthropology of Eastern Europe. Through rich ethnographic examples, we will try to answer questions such as what are ethics of the soil? What are the ethics of production and producers? How do they manifest in everyday life? These questions should enable a better understanding of the organization of lives in rural areas and of systems of production in the countryside and beyond.

This seminar is tailored for BA and MA students and the language of instruction will be English