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The Greenhouse at the End of the World - A Geostory in the Anthropocene Centered on Plants as Agents -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2024, (92), pp.053-087
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.092.03
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : December 28, 2023
  • Accepted : February 15, 2024
  • Published : February 28, 2024

song eun ju 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Plants have traditionally been perceived as passive and inert entities, viewed either as resources for human use or as integral components of the environment. However, the recent “Nonhuman turn” within the Anthropocene paradigm urges a reevaluation of the agency of non-human entities. This shift calls for a rewriting of ‘geostories’, instead of an anthropocentric History, with the active participation of non-humans. Therefore, there has been a surge in human-plant studies from a posthuman perspective. This paper examines Kim Choyop’s science fiction, The Greenhouse at the End of the Earth, as an illustrative instance of geostories. The narrative describes a catastrophic disaster of extreme dust, caused by a failed geoengineering attempt to reverse climate change. On the brink of extinction, a pivotal role is played by the artificial plant Mosbana, engineered by the cyborg scientist Rachel. It saves the planet by mitigating the dust concentration. However, it defies easy classification within the artificial versus natural dichotomy; it possesses its own agency, although shaped by human creation but not entirely under human control. The plant’s capacity to recognize and adapt to environmental changes, undergoing transformations that influence both itself and its surroundings, resonates with contemporary research on plant intelligence, which requires a post-anthropocentric redefinition of intelligence. In the novel, Mosbana also prompts a reconsideration of intelligence that extends beyond anthropocentric perspectives. The planet’s salvation is attributed to the symbiotic relationship between Mosbana and its human creators, highlighting the potential for common world-making between humans and non-humans. It is illustrated in Anna Tsing’s Mushrooms at the End of the World, who suggests “multispecies world-making.” The tale of Mosbana and the humans involved in its creation and dissemination serves as a compelling example of alternative geostories. This narrative challenges anthropocentrism by envisioning a shared and co-constructed reality between humans and non-humans.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.