Gathered fields: A tale about rhizomes

  • Marilyn Strathern University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


A return to Deleuze and Guattari’s famous figure of the rhizome, this paper turns the philosophical idea around by asking what we might learn, from their openended exposition of it, about plants. The account at once reduces the rhizome to its cultivated varieties and enlarges the notion of a plant by the people joined to it. A stimulus comes from the recent World Heritage designation of a site in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea, for its evidence of the prehistoric cultivation of plants preferentially propagated by vegetative means. Following Haudricourt’s early exposition of the yam and the implications of cloning as a way of life (as well as a way of thought), the paper elaborates on what is indissolubly tied to the rhizome as a cultivated plant, people’s actions. Rhizomic plants are well described as multiplicities. Some questions are asked about the nature of diverse contrasts that are or are not implied. The burden of ethnographic demonstration is with the Papua New Guinean material; the provisional nature of the rest will be apparent.
How to Cite
Strathern, M. (2017) “Gathered fields: A tale about rhizomes”, Anuac, 6(2), pp. 23-44. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-3058.