SAKIYA – Art | Science | Agriculture in collaboration with Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre
The first phase of Sakiya, was launched in 2016 during the Qalandiya International III biennial, in partnership with the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre. As part of this initiative, Sakiya established a community Garden Laboratory with local agro-ecologist Saad Dagher to facilitate sustainable agricultural practices and botanical research; a Compost Centre made from modified cement mixers and serviced by local restaurants and residents; a Library Project set up as a regional, open source networked library featuring a custom built, portable BookScanner courtesy of Marcell Mars, in collaboration with Beth Stryker and Cairo’s Cluster Group’s PILOT library initiative, and an inter-city Moving Garden project by the Danish artist Anika Barkan. Framing these components, Sinnokrot curated Under the Tree – Taxonomy, Empire and Reclaiming the Commons, an academic roundtable discussion moderated by Dr. Shela Sheikh of Goldsmiths University of London, on the colonial legacies of botanical classification featuring the participation of local academics, artists and farmers.
Under the Tree – Taxonomy, Empire and Reclaiming the Commons
Historically, colonialism and cultivation have been intertwined. Botanical taxonomy has underpinned European colonial expansion and served as precursor for racial hierarchization. If the now-hegemonic classification system instituted by Carolus Linnaeus (1707–78) can be likened to contemporary practices of bioprospecting and appropriating indigenous/local knowledge for the profit of transnational corporations, what critical, legal, literary and aesthetic tools might we employ in order to interrupt the ‘monoculture of knowledge’ of contemporary science and global neoliberal capitalism? How does the colonial construction of knowledge relate to contemporary questions around access to resources (file-sharing, seed banks, agricultural commons) and the suppression of ‘ecological’ thinking? Faced with contemporary biopiracy and epistemicide, how might we conceive of alternative practices of piracy and the commons that ‘harvest’ not only knowledge but also memory and the imaginary?