Pierre du Plessis

PhD student, AURA

Project title: Vegetal Gatherings: Plants, Fungi, and People through the Kalahari

My research explores the liveliness of Kalahari Desert landscapes through an attention to the Kalahari Desert Truffle and its plant symbionts, and contemporary practices of gathering these organisms. Focusing on these relationships, my research seeks to elaborate on the liveliness of landscapes as involving dynamic interactions between many entities. Plant and fungi movement, and the ways in which diverse forms of life come together are central to this study.  Despite often being treated as immobile and static, plants and fungi move, even if perhaps at a slower pace than people or animals, forging tracks and trails in the landscapes they inhabit. Others converge on and follow these tracks, people among them. These tracks, confluences, and mergings ­– which I refer to as vegetal gatherings to signify the relations of plantlife and gathering practices –provide the entry point for this study of lively Kalahari landscapes and its forms of life.