Going back-to-the-land in the Anthropocene: a more-than-human journey into anarchist geography
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This thesis is a theoretical and empirical journey into the more-than-human worlds of countercultural back-to-the-land farmers: radical environmentalists who migrate to rural places and take up farming as a way of living. It investigates their everyday life and relations to the land as a key dimension of their political radicalism and it interrogates the transformative potential of a back-to-the-land way of living. It does so by examining their lived experience of (post)migration and by paying attention to their affective experiences, encounters and everyday doings with the land and the non-human beings, objects and forces that are enrolled and shape their everyday life. The thesis is based upon a situated, yet empirically rich, (auto)ethnographic account of the researcher’s own back-to-the-land journey from the UK to southern Italy and her experience and practice as a back-to-the-land farmer. On a conceptual level, the thesis brings together more-than-human and anarchist geography to conceptualise the becomings and doings of back-to-the-land farmers in relational and more-than-human terms. More specifically, it draws upon the “more-than-human turn” in geographical theory to move beyond the human-centric frameworks of a (re)emerging anarchist geography. The thesis develops a distinctive theoretical trajectory that rethinks the subjects and transformative potentiality of anarchist prefigurative politics by foregrounding and attending to the agency of place, non-human beings and infrastructures. This thesis offers a thick ethnographic account of the affective experiences and contextual dimensions of back-to-the-land migration and everyday living, and it generates novel insights into the back-to-the-land movement. More specifically, it problematises the instrumental rationality that is often associated with radical subjects like back-to-the-land farmers, and it reveals the importance of intimate and radical connections and affective (dis)attachments in their becoming. Moreover, it rethinks the back-to-the-land movement from a lifestyle to a form-of-life, a whole way of living based on values, knowledge, skills and practices of ecological care, (self-)sufficiency and animal autonomy, and it draws attention to two generous infrastructures that it generates.