Sols, sous-sols dans la transition socio-écologique

Ce colloque souhaite rassembler des en sciences humaines & sociales s'intéressant à la façon dont les sols et les sous-sols sont convoqués par une série de promesses et de projets de transitions socio-écologiques. Stockages (CO2, déchets nucléaires), nouvelles extractions et nouvelles frontières (terres rares, métaux critiques, chaleur géothermique), séquestration du carbone dans les sols agricoles, bio-remédiations, sont quelques exemples de pratiques témoignant de l'enrôlement et de la traduction des sols, sous-sols et éléments qui les composent dans différents scénarios de transitions, eux-mêmes controversés.Ce colloque interroge en particulier la façon dont différentes strates et / ou entités du sol et du sous-sol se trouvent mis en contact, circulent, interagissent, produisent des effets attendus ou inattendus.

Les propositions sont attendues avant le 30 novembre 2020.

Le colloque se tiendra en ligne les 9, 10 et 11 juin 2021 à Grenoble.

Cet évènement est gratuit pour l'ensemble des (communiquants et non-communiquants), inscription obligatoire.

Se rendre à la plateforme de la conférence (accès aux salles sur inscription)


Soils and the underground in promises of socio-ecological transitions.

In recent years, new ‘functions’ have been assigned to soils and subsoils, ranging from projects of storing CO2 in the Earth’s deep strata, to the bioremediation of pollutants, the microbial stimulation of the ‘biological capital’ of agricultural soils, or the exploitation of novel mineral and energy resources. By enlisting soils and the underground in different ‘green transition’ scenarios, these processes lead to profound changes in contemporary relationships with underground environments, and give rise to new forms of knowledge and power associated with them. 

This conference brings together fifty researchers in the humanities and social sciences interested in the way in which soils and the underground are mobilised in current promises and projects of greening the economy, agriculture, cities and the energy sector. Calling on the disciplines of social geography, environmental sociology, STS, anthropology, and eco-criticism, it aims to examine how these scenarios renew our ways of thinking about the Earth and our relations to the ground, and how they unsettle once clear-cut boundaries between the organic and the mineral, depths and surfaces, or soils and subsoils.

The conference will probe how the study of contemporary relations to soils and the underground may open up fresh theoretical and methodological considerations within the environmental humanities and social sciences. In addition to the technical, economic, legal, aesthetic or emotional aspects of soil-society relationships, it asks how we can approach soils and subsoils as ‘strata’ or material layers configured by an intertwined set of actors, interests and socio-technical systems.

Our principal questions are:

(1) How are soils and the underground known, measured, monitored, and calculated in relation to new techno-scientific promises and hopes for a more ecological society?Through which political, technical, legal, metric and economic operations are soil and subsoil entities constructed as ‘resources’ (for storage, heat/cold management, as microbial reserve…)? What new fields of expertise and knowledge communities are emerging to tackle these issues?

(2) What new forms of conflict, politicisation, contestation and regulation of soils and the underground are emerging in the era of transitions?To what new kinds of contestation do projects of enrolling soils and the underground in the management of nuclear waste, shale gas operations, or carbon offsetting give rise? What other causes and rationales do these contestations connect to (sovereignty, indigenous identity, environment, landscape, socio-spatial justice…)?

(3) How can new representations and narratives help us think with soils and the underground? How can science fiction writing, installations, or performance produce narratives and counter-narratives on the past, present and future of our relations to soils and subsoils? How do art-science experiments take up the specific materialities of soils, rock strata, and the lively creatures and substances that they contain?


The conference will be held online on June 9, 10 and 11, 2021.

The conference will be held in French, with keynotes by Anna Krzywoszynska (University of Sheffield) and Nigel Clark (University of Lancaster) in English.


Free registration required to access the event:

To visit the dashboard of the conference (inscription needed to get access to the rooms)

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