Kneeling Before Corn

Recuperating More-than-Human Intimacies on the Salvadoran Milpa

Mike Anastario (Author), Elena Salamanca (Author), Elizabeth Hawkins (Author)
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The cultivation of the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) on subsistence farms in El Salvador is a multispecies, world-making, and ongoing process. Milpa describes a small subsistence corn farm. It is derived from the word milli (‘field’, or a piece of land under active cultivation) in Nahuatl. The milpa is a farming practice that uses perennial, intercropping, and swidden (fire and fallow) techniques that predates the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

Kneeling Before Corn focuses on the intimate relations that develop between plants and humans in the milpas of the northern rural region of El Salvador. It explores the ways in which more-than-human intimacies travel away from and return to the milpa through human networks.

Collective and multivocal, this work reflects independent lines of investigation and multiple conversations between co-authors—all of whom have lived in El Salvador for extended periods of time. Throughout the six chapters, the co-authors invite readers to consider more-than-human intimacies by rethinking, experimenting with, and developing new ways of documenting, analyzing, and knowing the intimacies that form between humans and the plants that they cultivate, conserve, long for, and eat. This book offers an innovative account of rural El Salvador in the twenty-first century.
“This evocative book explores more-than-human intimacies in the marginal milpas in El Salvador. The seamless blending of methodological innovations, reflexive writing, and ontological openness provides a powerful example of how scholarship might decenter what John Law calls the ‘one-world-world,’ while richly attending to connections between people and plants. Kneeling Before Corn is an innovative work that will appeal as much to those interested in agroecology as new materialist theory.”—Terese Virginia Gagnon, co-editor of Moveable Gardens: Itineraries and Sanctuaries of Memory

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