This paper takes up the Zapatista “Mother Seeds in Resistance” seed-preservation project as a case study for exploring the interconnections between contemporary biotechnology, biocultural diversity, and cultural institutions such as the archive. Drawing on environmental theories that employ the bioscientific concepts of entropy and self-organization to think about issues of biopiracy (Shiva), and on cultural theories that employ the same vocabulary to think about the archive as a mechanism of imperialist control (Richards, Stoler), I theorize the “Mother Seeds in Resistance” seed bank as an autonomous, self-organizing archive that embraces entropy in its biological, knowledge-sharing, and sociopolitical dimensions. I argue that, in addition to constructing an antihegemonic model of archival practice, this seed bank initiative teaches us that the growing influence of biotechnology on the production and circulation of knowledge means that contemporary decolonization movements must learn to speak about living systems, archival materials, and information control all in the same breath. This emergent biocultural paradigm has important consequences not only for archive theorists but also for ecocritics interested in the cultural ramifications of environmental efforts to preserve indigenous agricultural resources, as well as postcolonial scholars interested in identifying situated material practices that are contributing to the global struggle for the decolonization of knowledge.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.