Unwrapping the Spontaneous Flora: On the Appropriation of Weed Labour

Open access


Part of the raw material accumulation for the medicinal plant industry in Romania is reliant on gathering plants from the so-called spontaneous flora. The imagery of medicinal plants played upon by medicinal plant product manufacturers is often abundant in visions of either wilderness or traditional peasant landscapes such as pastures. This article aims to present instead two different spaces where medicinal plants come from: wild pansy from within an oil seed rape cultivation, and elderflowers and nettles from the ruins of a former socialist orchard. These spaces of spontaneous flora highlight the process of capital’s appropriation or salvage of the ‘free’ reproductive labour (spontaneous growth) of weeds often at odds and against other capitalist processes. Moreover, salvaging or scrounging is done through the cheap labour of a family whose livelihood depends on work both inside and outside of this capitalist process. These places, therefore, highlight the tension between the spontaneous flora and scroungers on the ground and Nature with its ancestral peasants on the supermarket and nature shop shelves.

Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette. (2007). Reconfiguring Nature through Syntheses: From Plastics to Biomimetics, in The Artificial and the Natural: An Evolving Polarity, edited by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and William R. Newman, 293–312. MIT Press.

Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette, and Isabelle Stengers. (1996). A History of Chemistry. 1st edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bogdal, Klaus-Michael. (2011). Europa erfindet die Zigeuner: Eine Geschichte von Faszination und Verachtung. 5th ed. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Bojor, Ovidiu, and Răducanu Dumitru. (2007). Plante și miresme biblice: hrană pentru suflet și trup. București: Fiat Lux.

Bonta, Mark. (2010). Ornithophilia: Thoughts on Geography in Birding. Geographical Review 100 (2): 139–51.

Borloveanu, Mariana. (2014). Leacuri mănăstirești: terapii pentru trup și suflet. București: Editura Lumea Credinței.

Cassidy, Rebecca. (2007). Introduction: Domestication Reconsidered, in Where the Wild Things Are Now: Domestication Reconsidered, edited by Rebecca Cassidy and Molly Mullin, 1- 25. Berg.

Cassidy, Rebecca, and Molly Mullin, eds. (2007). Where the Wild Things Are Now: Domestication Reconsidered. Berg.

Chirilă, Pavel, and Mihai Valică. (2009). Spitalul creștin: introducere în medicina pastorală. Editura Christiana.

Cosma, Valer Simion. (2017). Inventarea țăranului în cultura română transilvăneană (Secolul al XIX-Lea), in La Granița Dintre Științe: Istorie, Mentalități, Imaginar, edited by Ovidiu Ghitta and Gheorghe Negustor. Cluj Napoca: Argonaut/Mega.

Dumitrescu, Florin. (2015). Tradții la superofertă. între socoteala din agenție și cea de la raft. Cartier.

Edensor, Tim. (2005). Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality. Bloomsbury Academic.

Emigh, Rebecca Jean, Éva Fodor, and Iván Szelényi. (2001). The Racialization and Feminization of Poverty, in Poverty, Ethnicity, and Gender in Eastern Europe During the Market Transition, edited by Rebecca Jean Emigh and Iván Szelényi, 1–32. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Etkin, Nina L. (2007). Edible Medicines: An Ethnopharmacology of Food. University of Arizona Press.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and SocialistFeminism in the Late Twentieth Century, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, 149–82. Routledge.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne.. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne.. (2004). The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others, in The Haraway Reader, 63–125. New York and London: Routledge.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne.. 2008. When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press.

Harvey, David. (2010). A Companion to Marx’s Capital. Verso.

Hedley Brooke, John. (2007). Overtaking Nature? The Changing Scope of Organic Chemistry in the Nineteenth Century. in The Artificial and the Natural: An Evolving Polarity, edited by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and William R. Newman, 275–92. MIT Press.

Iatridis, Demetrius S., and June G. Hopps. (1998). Privatization in Central and Eastern Europe: Perspectives and Approaches. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Ingold, Tim. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Routledge.

Kirk, John. (2003). Mapping the Remains of the Postindustrial Landscape. Space and Culture 6 (2): 178–86.

Kocze, Angela, and Nidhi Trehan. (2009). Postcolonial Racism and Social Justice, in Racism Postcolonialism Europe, edited by Graham Huggan and Ian Law. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Kovács, Éva Judit. (2009). The ‘Fact’ of Gypsyness. A Case from Hungary. Nevi Sara Kali. Roma Women’s Journal, 1: 30–44.

Kürti, László. (2005). Shamanism - Neo (Eastern Europe), in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor, Volume 2:1529–31. Thoemmes Continuum.

Latour, Bruno. (1987). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press.

Latour, Bruno. (2004). Politics of Nature. Harvard University Press.

Latour, Bruno.. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. OUP Oxford.

Lázár, Imre. (2006). Táltos Healers, Neoshamans and Multiple Medical Realities in Hungary, in Multiple Medical Realities: Patients and Healers in Biomedical, Alternative and Traditional Medicine, edited by Helle Johannessen and Imre Lázár, 35–52. New York: Berghahn Books.

Lorimer, Jamie. (2015). Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature. University of Minnesota Press.

Marder, Michael. (2011). Plant-Soul: The Elusive Meanings of Vegetative Life. Environmental Philosophy, 8 (1): 83–99.

Marx, Karl. (1990 [1867]). Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. Translated by BenFowkes. Vol. I. Penguin Books.

Mihăilescu, Vintilă. (2013). Scutecele națiunii și hainele împăratului. Note de antropologie publică. 2nd ed. Polirom.

Mihăilescu, Vintilă. (2015). Apologia Pîrleazului. Polirom.

Moore, Jason W. (2015). Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. Verso.

Narotzky, Susana. (2016). Where Have All the Peasants Gone? Annual Review of Anthropology 45 (1): 301–18.

Povedák, István. (2014). The Monk and the White Shaman, in Religion, Culture, Society. Yearbook of the MTA-SZTE Research Group for the Study of Religious Culture, edited by Gábor Barna, 95–114. Szeged.

Pusca, Anca. (2010). Industrial and Human Ruins of Postcommunist Europe. Space and Culture 13 (3): 239–55.

Thirkell, John E. M., Krastyu Petkov, and Sarah Vickerstaff. (1998). The Transformation of Labour Relations: Restructuring and Privatization in Eastern Europe and Russia. Oxford University Press.

Tong, Diane, ed. (1998). Gypsies: An Interdisciplinary Reader. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2005). Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton University Press.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2009). Supply Chains and the Human Condition. Rethinking Marxism 21 (2): 148–76.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2012). Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species. Environmental Humanities 1: 141–54.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2014). Blasted Landscapes (And the Gentle Arts of Mushroom Picking), in The Multispecies Salon, edited by Eben Kirksey, 87–109. Durham: Duke University Press.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2015a). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton University Press.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. (2015b). Salvage Accumulation, or the Structural Effects of Capitalist Generativity — Cultural Anthropology. Cultural Anthropology. March 30, 2015.

Wark, McKenzie. (2015). Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene. Verso.

Descopera Natura. (2013). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_ZEMTnrFIA. [Accessed 15.05.2018].

DuPont® România. (2017). Catalog DuPont. 2017. https://bit.ly/2LVVhfC. [Accessed 15.05.2018].

Ecoinspect. 2015. Informare Privind Operatorii Care Colectează Specii Din Flora Spontană. https://www.ecoinspect.ro. [Accessed 10.01.2018].

Enciclopedia Plantelor - Introducere. (2013). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVXcHN_lM98&feature=youtube_gdata_player. [Accessed 15.05.2018].

Gazeta de Agricultură. (2012). Soluții inovatoare în cultura rapiței de toamnă. https://bit.ly/2OqDXAX. [Accessed 15.05.2018].

M.A.D.R., Ministerul Agriculturii și Dezvoltării Rurale. (2017). Rapiță Pentru Ulei.

Redacția Sănatatea Plantelor. (2017). Fără buruieni în cultura de rapiță, cu ‘pachetele iscusite’ de la ALCEDO. https://www.sanatateaplantelor.ro/fara-buruieni-incultura-de-rapita-cu-pachetele-iscusite-de-la-alcedo/. [Accessed 2.08.2017].

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.08

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.114
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.033


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 109 109 8
PDF Downloads 78 78 5