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Environmental anthropology of abandoned agricultural land on the coast of Brittany (France)

Author Amelia VEITCH
Director of thesis Mark Goodale
Co-director of thesis Birgit Müller
Summary of thesis

According to a recent survey, an estimated 150 000 acres of agricultural land is left abandoned in the French region of Finistère (Brittany). This fallow land is largely concentrated on the coast. In a region dominated by industrial agriculture and marked by the environmental degradation of marine areas, coastal fallow lands are becoming a key political and symbolic issue.

The village of Moëlan-sur-mer has initiated a project to recover its 1200 acres of coastal fallow land by activating an unusual article of the Rural Code.

Combining environmental anthropology with the interdisciplinary field of multispecies studies, my research examines the contemporary drive to recultivate abandoned coastal land. Collaborating with local actors of this movement as well as specialists in agricultural and coastal environments, I draw on three complementary ethnographic sites. The main one is the pilot project in Moëlan: an unprecedented initiative, debated and mediatised, to reinstall farmers, in close dialogue with local inhabitants. The second is a regional network of farmers working with so-called "semi-natural" vegetation. The third fieldwork takes place in the governing spheres where dominant and emerging institutional actors negotiate the conditions of possibility and reproducibility of such an experiment.

The research aims to provide a polyphonic reading of these abandoned and recultivated plots of land. Their stories test the relationship between coastality, naturality and the relocation of food production, while questioning the legitimacy of human interventions on the environment.

Status beginning
Administrative delay for the defence 2025
URL https://www.ameliaveitch.com/