Peter Oviatt
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Peter Oviatt

Peter studies the interactions of fungi, plants and people in soils of high human impact. Whether found in urban gardens, truffle orchards or vast swaths of industrial monocultures, his area of focus is the rhizosphere: the vital underground where roots meet fungi.

Through historical analysis and ethnographic practice, Peter investigates the formation of knowledge and shifting perceptions of soil-dwelling fungi. Understanding scientific and non-scientific collaborations is especially valuable in his work, particularly where applications of this knowledge impact societies, livelihoods and landscapes.

His central subject is mycorrhiza, an often obligate fungal symbiosis with the roots of most terrestrial plants. With the management of mycorrhizal fungi that act as plant fertilizers, soil "remediators" or producers of gourmet edible mushrooms, there is an expanding mycorrhiza economy whose complexities demand investigation. Similarly, as interest in such functional fungi grows broader, the ways in which humans perceive and interact with landscapes, microbes and soils continue to change. With fungi, Peter hopes to shed new empirical light on topics such as agro-ecology, land use, and food production and perception.

Peter earned an MA in Politics from The New School for Social Research.

Key words

agriculture; land use; food systems; political ecology; soil conservation; domestication and commodification of fungi; mushrooms; mycorrhiza; history and anthropology of mycology



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