Other than human – Emerging vegetal communication in the public space

Expected response for the 10/02/2022

Response type Résumé

Event type Conference



SFSIC labelled event

Event dates
  • From at , 9h - 18h

Event place Aix Marseille Université, Le Cube , 29 avenue Robert Schuman , Aix en Provence 13100, France

La ICA Preconference “Other than Human World: emerging vegetal communication in the public space” will take place in Aix-en-Provence on may 25th and 26th, 2022.

At the interface between the natural environment and human communication, the understanding and the interest of non-human worlds are emerging more and more strongly in the public space. Connected to the notions of biodiversity and ecosystem, and fully inscribed in the vision of a “one-ness” of the natural world, the emergence of the living seeps into the public arenas, in a non-linear and sometimes non-visible way. Some emblematic struggles, some symbols crystallize the media attention. Polar bears, orangutans, bees, tigers have benefited from public sympathy, set up as banners for the struggle of NGOs against much larger phenomena, those of climate change, loss of biodiversity or deforestation. The public agenda and attention focus on species, either threatened with extinction or threatening (because they are invasive, for example) before moving on to other media emergencies. Research in environmental communication has thus been able to highlight our approach and our imaginary of the Wild (Busmek, 1997 2005, 2007 ; Collins & Kephart, 2007, Hardy and Short, 1997 ; Horn, 2007, Paystrup, 1993, Schwarze, 2001 ; Wilson, 2007, Borusé, 2000), our relationship to nature and biodiversity (Denton 2001, Hall, 1992, Eilers 1995, Cooper 1993), our perception of other “voices” (Coppola, 2001, Freeman, 2008, Sanchez, 1993, Meisner, 1995, 1997, 2005, Davis 1997)

These non-human “voices” are thus the object of fragmented and isolated attentions, or even absent from mediation devices because they are “invisible” to us (Wandersee, Schussler 2001; Morizot, Zhong Mengual 2018; Morizot 2020; Batke, Dallimore, Bostock, 2020). Nonetheless, this cognitive and comprehensive emergence is increasing and becoming normalized via a parallel legislative struggle led by animal abuse associations.

Another form of life is emerging because of this evolution in our consideration of the living world and in particular the animal world. Less visible, less mediatic, sometimes more intimate too, the vegetal world is also reconsidered, in multiple dimensions, between instrumentalization and contemplation, by arousing a large palette of meaning constructions. If media coverage is more discreet, it is no less present (Cholet, Catellani & Pascual Espuny, 2020, Halford, 2013 Fournier, Moula 2018).


Our relationship with plants, algae, mosses, mushrooms, trees, flowers, and forests opens up multiple fields of study: beyond our relationship with the green, emblematic nature, it is also our relationship with light, food, fertilization, shade, and colors that we observe. From the garden to the mythological forests, from our vegetable gardens to our plate, from the jungle to our urban plane trees, from our parks to our wild moors, our relationship to time is changing, adapting to the rhythm of the seasons and to non-human growth times. Our relationship to space is also evolving from the microscopic sequencing of the pharmacopoeia to the macro-economic management of large agricultural and forest areas. Understanding plants is another way of looking at our relationship with the world.

Research in biology and ecology, but also in philosophy, invites us to perceive plants in a new light, notably as sensitive beings, but also intelligent, even conscious (Calvo, Keijzer, 2009; Gagliano, 2012; Mancuso, 2013; Trewavas, 2016; Tassin, 2016; Chamovitz, 2017; Calvo, Gagliano, 2020; Parise, 2020). Best-selling books (Wohlleben 2015, 2019, 2021) and several documentaries and media coverage, in the field of popularization, show the presence of a cultural movement that seems to be changing the foundations of our view of human-animal-plant relationships. ■


Focus of the conference:

To consider our communication on the plant world thus leads us to reflect and analyze our relationship with living beings that are essential to ecosystems, and that have crucial symbolic, environmental, societal, economic, and cultural importance. Through the study of communication, different axes seem to emerge, which we suggest as a non-exhaustive list for communication proposals:

  • The evolution of the naturalistic vision (as theorized by Philippe Descola)
  • The question of narratives of the relationship to the living
  • The question of territories and their strategies for promoting and promoting so-called green practices
  • The question of artistic contributions, many of which are currently carried by territories
  • the question of the relationship to the body and emotions
  • The remediation of culture by nature Issues of standardization and institutionalization of our relationship with the living including the different actors, such as National or Regional Parks or transboundary complexes
  • Changes in the relationship to the norm and self-regulation in the relationship to the living
  • Educommunication issues
  • Anthropization issues
  • Political, associative but also commercial questions