Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities


As a category of plant species, “weeds” are often thought of as ‘pesky’ nuisances and treated with absolute disdain. But what are “weeds” and how did they become “pests” that homeowners, gardeners, and conservationists alike seek to control and/or eliminate? My inquiry into “weeds” reveals that the designation of “weeds” is not scientific so much as it is socially and culturally constructed. The categorization of “weeds,” shaped by evolving notions of place, space, and belonging, provides a window into underlying social and cultural norms that structure our relationships with one another and the more-than-human world. Situated within settler colonial contexts, the perception and treatment of “weeds” is intertwined with biopolitical notions of life and death– who is worthy of life, who can self-determine, who is out of place, who is disposable, etc. From Turtle Island to Palestine, I explore how these principles are enforced by the settler state and reproduced through dominant values, ideologies, and narratives. Settler colonial ideologies declare that some beings have the right to live at the expense of others. But, how can “weeds,” resilient beings in a world cracking at its seams, teach us ways of being and relating to one another that aid our imagining of sustainable and just futures for people and land, interconnected? In pursuing a counter-narrative of “weeds,” I conduct a case study of four “weeds” that explores these plants’ evolution within the cultural imagination and further, suggests the resistant and liberatory potential encoded within these plants often written off as “pests.”

Author Biography

Sofia is a Senior at Macalester majoring in American Studies with a Media/Cultural Studies minor. They are originally from the Los Angeles area (occupied Tongva lands) and are both a descendant of settlers and a second-generation child of an immigrant. Sofia enjoys all forms of creative expression, making medicines and teas from found materials, and being in community with others passionate about building a better world. They would like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has helped them in any way with this project and through their time at Macalester overall and look forward to doing good work in the future.