Source: Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology
Abstract: This article portrays the shift experienced in the role of acacia trees during environmental–political struggles as the entanglement of trees and people. Drawing on a four-year ethnographic study around Israel’s Arava desert valley, the article narrates human interactions with these trees amid an environmental conflict fraught with personal and political conflict, opposing perspectives on natural preservation and scientific debate, as well as disputes among environmental organisations. Contrary to current approaches in anthropology that –theoretically at least – confer agency on the non-human, I refocus on the human practices that weave the non-human into the social fabric. In this article, I argue that the trees – not actors in their own right, yet inhabiting a tapestry of people and other elements – are essential to understanding a variety of social processes.