Learning with the seed bomb: on a classroom encounter with abolition ecology

Authors: , , , ,


Throughout a semester-long introduction to the field of political ecology, our class turned to Paul Robbins' notion of the "hatchet" and the "seed" to categorize the goals of the field. Exploring this metaphor, we felt compelled to consider its potential within an expanded view of how racial capitalism structures socio-environmental relations. The hatchet points to political ecology's commitment to dismantling systems of oppression embedded in racial capitalism, while the seed suggests the constructive pursuit of freedom, sustainability, and care. After reading a series of case studies, we felt our hatchets were well-sharpened and our eyes attuned to the structural inequities not only in the geographically diverse locales we had read about, but also in our state, our town, and our university. As the semester wound to a close, we read a series of more recent interventions entwining the black radical tradition and abolition with political ecology. We were inspired by a new sense of political ecology's ability to not only diagnose inequities and harms, but to propose and enact novel interventions. The ideas we explored through these works resonated with us as cutting and vital critiques, helping us to imagine abolition within situated ecologies. To expand on Robbin's "hatchet" and "seed," we propose the "seed bomb" as a useful metaphor for thinking about the way that abolition ecologies intervene in, and destabilize, existing political-ecological regimes.

Keywords: abolition ecology, seed bomb, political ecology, undergraduate education, black radical tradition

How to Cite: Pitts, A. K. , Trost, B. , Trost, N. , Hand, B. & Margulies, J. (2022) “Learning with the seed bomb: on a classroom encounter with abolition ecology”, Journal of Political Ecology. 29(1). doi: