The Global Studies Seminar presents “Life Unlived: Latency and Longing at the Turkish Seed Gene Bank,” by Can Dalyan, a visiting assistant professor of international studies and environmental studies at Denison. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, he works and teaches on conservation, climate change, and cultural aspects of science and technology. His book project explores how genebanks regulate plant life in the Anthropocene.
The global ecological challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change have significantly altered plant conservation in the last two decades and have led to the proliferation of seed banks worldwide. During this period, national seed banks emerged as markers of territoriality where regulation of plant life vitalizes ideas of genetic nationhood, and international seed banks came to represent the universalist promise of conservation in the age of humans. Drawing on a year of ethnographic fieldwork at the Turkish Seed Gene Bank in Ankara, this talk will explore the making and unmaking of life at a national conservation institution. Providing an “insider’s look” into everyday conservation processes, it will analyze the technoscientific management of frozen plant life in tandem with the precarious working lives of civil servant conservationists, and examine how life materializes as a concept and a field of intervention inside a seed bank.