VITALGREENHOUSE. Greenhouses as Vital Landscapes: Sustainability, Relationality, and the Future of Food

The project, which has been awarded 1.5 million euros for five years, analyses sustainability transitions in European horticultural greenhouses in relation to mobility, particularly flows of migrant workers, the circulation of non-humans as collaborators or pests, and technological interventions and innovations.

This project asks: how is sustainability being conceived and practiced in diverse and competing ways in the greenhouse? To answer these questions, the project deploys an innovative combination of multisited ethnography and more-than-human ethnography.

Greenhouses as vital landscapes

The research team will compare how sustainability is imagined and performed in two European industrial greenhouse hubs, the Netherlands and Spain. VITALGREENHOUSE departs from envisioning greenhouses as contained and controlled, and instead reconceptualizes them as vital landscapes, sites alive with experimentations, transforming and transformed by their surroundings. Thus, instead of seeing the greenhouse as a technological fix, or presuming sustainability as a universal value, Ibáñez Martín’s approach brings together vital aspects that are usually kept separate, such as the ways growers are required to adopt new technologies, workers’ mobilities, and the collaborations with other-than-humans such as pollinator bees.

New perspectives on planetary transformations

VITALGREENHOUSE will inscribe greenhouses in a longer history of human relations with the environment, bringing together the questions of the exploitation of landscapes, digitalisation, mobilities, and human and other-than-human work. The innovative concept of vital landscapes will generate a new critical perspective on planetary transformations and advance theoretical debates in critical infrastructure studies, multispecies relations, and decolonial thought.

Runtime: May 2024 – May 2029