Soils as Ecosocial Processes: Explaining Farmland Soil pH Differences in SW Hungary

Speaker: Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, professor and chair, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at SUNY New Paltz

Drawing in part from a nascent Critical Physical Geography, Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro explores how soil pH is shaped by intrinsic soil properties, wider environmental processes, farming practices, as well as social relations of power. This is demonstrated by examining the ecosocial processes (linked biophysical and social relations) that have led to shifts in farmland soil pH along the northern banks of the Drava River (SW Hungary).

The research results illustrate how human-induced changes in soil characteristics and ostensibly technical interventions are underlain by unacknowledged political commitments and can contribute to reinforcing social inequalities. A main conclusion is that soil development dynamics are more objectively explained by extending the purview of the study of soils to include identifying and investigating social relations of power. This is because wider social relations shape soil-modifying activities and condition scientific conceptual frameworks. The political ramifications of these conclusions will be briefly discussed in relation to the study of soils and soil conservation.

About the speaker:

Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro is professor at the Department Geography and Environmental Studies of SUNY New Paltz and chief editor for Capitalism Nature Socialism. His most recent books are Ecology, Soils, and the Left (PalgraveMacmillan), Urban Food Production (Routledge, with G. Martin), and Socialist States and Environment (Pluto). His research areas include soil trace metal contamination, soil acidification, urban food production, and socialism and environment.


This event received funding from the Polson Institute for Global Development and was organized by the Critical Soil Studies Working group.

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