JOURNAL OF QUEER AND FEMINIST THEORY+
SPRING 2022 ISSUE
the que(e)ry Collective and journal are recognized by the Columbia University Student Governing Board and receive significant support from the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and GenderCOVER ART BY EM SIELER
note from the collective
“People are different from each other.”— Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
“A rhythm that is not simple relationality or routine antirelationality is established.”— José Esteban Muñoz
Melancholic poetics that trace the very skin of memory, instances of absence awaiting to be named, breathe animacy into private histories. Speculative prose, sketching visceral iterations of imaginary departure from the real, takes these aerial reverberations and latent matters to futures yet to come. Elsewhere, spectral images leveled with bodies becoming otherwise regenerate wounds anew. Think of our brochure as an incomplete archive to dwell in, a user’s manual for transing topologies rendered all to fictive, or a bedside reader that echoes secretive desires in lovers’ whispers and distant utopias…
The que(e)ry Collective is a non-hierarchical undergrad student group that works with queer/feminist theory, practice, and art in collaborative and communal ways. For this issue of que(e)ry, we were looking for and selecting pieces that got us thinking together, feeling together, laughing together, confused together, struggling together, and hopeful together.
We are grateful to the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender. Neither que(e)ry nor this journal would be possible without their support.
– que(e)ry Collective
eulogy for a body that i never hadCALLIE UPDIKE
thick, he said. i joked about being chunky no. you’re thick
two c’s? just one?
thicccccurvy a cccccompliment
cccccrying i cried. into his arms as he caressed every lump i had become skilled at ignoring & there was fear
i found fear in his eyes cascading across his sculpted cheekbones & guilt.
it’s a good thing. i love that about you. you’re perfect. & i wept further as he danced across the eggshells i’d dropped at his feet.
him & i, we both kiss girls. kiss
ccccckissing them because they’re beautiful.
cccccurves fitting like a puzzle in our arms
cccccaressing our muscles & ribs
rubbing against soft skin no.
thick women are beautiful. that can’t be the problem. but i’m crying. weeping.
mourning. because the body i had always believed was mine was dead to me.
visualizing me: young. powerful. dignified. breathing in unison with the breathless pattern of the upper west side sure, she’s a little more masculine than most with that lesbian haircut. but she’s thin. not much to look at but she’s?
she’s pretty? she’s pretty. for years i lived inside of her not without doubt, of course but soothing words & numbers on a scale supplement & uphold the fantasy. no ass, no tits in a revealing dress, but she’s thin. she’s pretty.
why must i equate the two? i kiss pretty curvy thick girls all the time. but to that moment, i’d never lived inside of one.
soft, guilty hands running through my hair i looked down to my naked body my pale skin & it wasn’t thin anymore. it wasn’t pretty. the smooth arch in the small of my back & hips & ass & tits they were misshapen. lumpy. f*t.
the slender body that i had called home that i had taught myself to hide inside of to feel safe in the confines of even with no ass
no tits in a revealing dress had been massacred no. stripped away. because it had never existed. i wouldn’t have you any other way. that’s my type. and really, it was our type.
curvy thicccccurvy wwwwwomen and i’m wwwwwweeping mourning grieving because
i knew it meant that i would have to learn to love this pretty body all over again.
mid-march golden hour with a girl you could loveJULIA TOLDA
you will not drape your arms over her clavicles or float your hands above her skin, too worried you might break her pigeon-bones and push her shallow chest in. instead, you watch her chew on saltines, watch her watch dark birds chirp from the tree pronounce its name in Latin when you think she is asleep but she is not and she will remember.
Untitled Passing Poem
I want to pass as transgender.
I want to pass as a liminal space sixteen years of wishing for something else.
I want to pass as palpable confusion a boy with earrings the strangers I’ve made eye contact with on the train.
I want to pass as redemption for every second I’ve lived before this one as forgiveness and possibility a hunger for the future that I formerly did not know trembling that grew into a roar waiters calling me sir without flinching my voice feeling deep in my throat handsome unafraid a force to be reckoned with departure from who I was before
but also a return to who I have always been, standing in the door frame neither entering nor leaving the glass that separates your fingertip from its reflection a bridge between my limbs self-assured
a deserted island on which I am the only inhabitant a masterpiece of my own creation.
I want to pass as manifestation, as embodiment and documentation. I want to pass as letting myself breathe.
Blessing for Beginnings
Blessed are you belly hair, soft and tender, straightening when the water runs over, curling when I draw my hand back. Blessed are you, holy endocrinologist psychiatrist letter signed by therapist, blessed are you holy text,
EXPRESSED A PERSISTENT DESIRE.
Blessed is the prophecy in Times New Roman.
G-d, king of the universe, of gender dysphoria and testosterone cypionate, of Leslie Feinberg and Audre Lorde and Stormé DeLarverie,
You Knew that I ate the bread before the prayer was finished, that I opened my eyes during the Shema, that I am too hungry for my own good, that I want too much and
work too little, hesitate a moment too long before pulling the needle out from the thigh.
a girl is a flower
a girl is a flower 2
I have her underneath my nailsTATIANNA DUGUÉ
Heavenly Dirt Black skin. folds under my eyelids
I still taste her in my ears water downed oceans swimming between my temples her sweat on my tongue tastes acrid with hints of puff pastry
I wait for a taste test again
light and heavy are the ghosts of her limbs they dig deep into the trenches of my skin
I feel her ache in my bones my body simmers and shakes for her past passions
Deep Threads TATIANNADUGUÉ
My love lies in the deep threads of my clothes, of my bed
My love lies in between the sewn fabric of my pillows beneath my head
My love lies within the frayed endings of our worn down summer clothes of a wrinkled stained spot on my favorite winter coat
My love lies in the darkness of a closet space
Hung up on hangers
No bones to hold its place
Pushed and packed tightly- wool on fitted lace
My love lies in the quiet of each corner
Swaying softly as her hand brushes past Soft sighs arise from my seams and soft clinks from my clasps
a grindr storyJOE MEYER
I’m constantly amazed by the boldness of strangers On apps, hiding behind a blank profile
A headless torso
You shouldn’t be having sex
You’re too young!
Did I just pass u
Hi I don’t wanna hookup or anything but I wanted to say I rlly like ur hair
As you grow up omg you will be nyc magazine model looking jock boy
Lol was that you on the train earlier?
Would you say you have like zero gag reflex
Will you marry me for two weeks?
Wanna poop on my face?
Hi, I don’t wanna sounds like a psyco But, I see you today in the street
You look like a little powderpuff doll anyway your cute
Have you ever taken a dance class?
Can I do a line off ur cock
Lol hi classmate!
Keep running into you today
Does this pic make my forehead look big
Do you ever pee outdoors
I’m still constantly amazed by the boldness of strangers
mouthless ALYSSA JONES
there are species of moths with no mouths.
oh, they had mouths when they were caterpillars, happily munching away at grass and leaves, not knowing what awaited them:
cocoons full of goo, melted down and built up again, reborn into a new night
air made of burning leaves and black smoke
they’re born again they reproduce they die
no need to eat no need to live no need to fly just to leave something behind
flashing lights/melted wings/screaming eggs
even if you can’t leave them much even if you can’t leave anything worthwhile even if neither of you matter
just to leave
an instance of morphological imag(in)ingSAM HYMAN
I wake up in the morning from the evening of Manhattan. One step at a time, through a mirror, a shower and a careful bite of early air. I slowly dress in clothes of urban summer as I erase the sinful vulgarity of last evening’s desire. He gives away a heavy stare, draped with charcoal circles underneath his eyes. He tries to understand the puzzle of my own as I begin the soft ritual of placing breakfast on the table. I offer dirty coffee in mugs of empty liquor, which to my surprise he refuses instantly. None for me, darling. A regretful whimper in the shades of his bedsheets.
I imagine myself as a whore in his mind, a forgetful romantic in search of desire. But my mind has become plain, hammered, and empty. I have lost the ability to paint and exaggerate my face with emotion. His face, however, often dressed with weary seduction, is painted heavily with the masculine colours of makeup. Alone, broken by the love that we used to take great care of before the preying hands of violence intruded in on us. Pleasure does find its way from time to time, but only to slightly filter our reality of loss. Sometimes he enjoys pulling my pants down, counting the alphabet step by step with his tongue before pressing it against my cock. His fingers trace the murmurs of my mouth, searching for a new excitement as I trap them with my teeth. But now he is in his bed, the remnants of anger still linger in his eyes that turn away from mine. The shouts and screams from last night still ring in his ears. And I have finished dressing myself in dull purity, shutting the crisp of my mouth to let the silence drain its last thirst before I open the front door to the scent of plain Sunday bagels.
“Why don’t you want to make love with me anymore? Please just tell me… Give me something. Let me know what you are thinking. What goes on in your mind? Why do you drink so much from the glass of pain?”, he asked in the dark of last night. Softly the mouth became heavy and breathing looked for its tranquility. He felt tired. His eyes melted into the background of his conscience, while my legs bent crookedly to the ground. They were shaped like broken wood, splinters running about the whole body. “You fuck me up one more time and I will kill you. Do you understand me?” A little closer to my ear, his mouth over me like a hawk. “Do you understand me?! You think you’re so smart with your composure and arrogance! Shut up! You want me to hit you? To beat you up? Maybe that’s what’s best for you since you don’t have any worth left in you!” Eyes tired, they became so tired under the colours of violence. “You don’t understand me, do you? Understand me! Listen to what I have to say you fucked up moron! You are pathetic, pathetic! Out of my face! You make me sick! You are a fucked up son of a bitch! Listen to me! You touch me one more time and I will kill you! Do you understand me?” The hawk sharpened its claws in front of me. “Do you understand me?!” At the end, when the throat scratched for
air and the scream died to a hummer, he started plucking his tears out with his fingers and placed them in a growing anger. He left. The feet echoed with the puddles of his shouts lingering in the room.
“Because you lock my body as a desire that only belongs to you! I gave it to you while I still held it in my hands, when I was sure I would never let go of it. You reached forward to touch it. And then you grabbed hold of it, invading its territory, ignoring my guidance.” My voice followed his footsteps to the quiet bedroom. “You used to have a heart that was so generous, when I could still feel its power as it shaped the love I had for you. But, you became worried. You saw the other men as a threat and counted them one by one before the numbers led you to your obsession. That’s when I first felt the anger within you. You had no control over it and used me to mold it over my own flesh. You tried to cut my feet to the size of your own. You stretched my knees to follow your height. You measured the shapes of my face to sculpt it as your own. You pulled my mind underneath the covers of your skin, not letting me breathe to release the collar struggling around my throat.”
I have lines of pain still sheltering in my eyes as I feel the burn of the morning sunrise. The door shut behind me and I found myself outside by the streets of the city. The Bagel Shop, where we would always have breakfast, was already climbing up to his room as I heard the oven breathing out its sesame and bread. Every Sunday he would go down to order two bagels, and then walk right back up to share them with me.
Nowhere could I find a taxi, so I held on to my crippling body back to my own apartment 10 blocks up. We never had a home where we would share our lives together, where we would create a nest with our arms to lay our heads on. Our distance is what first built our strength. I would always come down to lay kisses on his forehead on 18th Street, and he would climb up with his strong knees to ring on my door on 28th. But, it became too hard, too far to see one another clearly. And I was weak when my desires scattered elsewhere, when the distance we first drew became even stronger. His questions felt heavy, possessive, and hurtful. Wherever he could find a hold on my mind, he devoured it whole like sweet red candy, and I bleached my tongue from every taste of emotion with a big bottle of white Clorox.
I lock my front door, undress myself down to my underwear, and pour a cup of chamomile tea. I add sugar, discomfort, and tears to my drink. Warm smoke slowly drifts away in a forgotten sleep, as I gently let time stir my mind in the liquid of my past.
I hurt him in ways that broke his mind, that made him vile and bitter by my own wrongdoings. He taunted me with words too heavy to hold. Commitment. Monogamy. Marriage. I answered by stealing the lock he had on my body, luring even more men into its very confines. My infidelity became a shield to fight off his expectations of me. I could spit at his words with enough wounds to mark his flesh. Their scars kept on scratching his skin in their sharp and twisted curves, ready to shackle me down with their chains ringing in my ears.
I took my hand and stroked the waves of shame off my scalp, a crown too heavy to hold that is broken by exhaustion and loss. My speech was silent. My cheekbones enhanced my coloured sadness. Shoulders slightly curled in. I didn’t even have time to finish my tea before I climbed in bed with the afternoon light still pouring out its mid-June heat. …
“You meet with other men beneath my very own shadow! And you expect me to be the one to save you from your fucking misery? To protect you when you have shattered the bonds of our love? What is wrong with you? You are a twisted motherfucker.” His voice invaded the remnants of my thoughts as I could hear the night getting deeper and deeper. “A little whore at that. Don’t you think? Even you know it, admit it. A little whore. Huh? It’s true, don’t you think so?” My answers were muffled in tears that kept me from breathing out my words. “Why is that? Hmmm? Do you wanna be used like a slut? But yes. That explains everything. You’re just a whore. A little whore, darling. But little whores, you have to punish them, you have to make them cry, make them suffer,… They love that sort of thing. No? Answer me! It’s not such a difficult question, especially since that is how you treated me!” His shouts were piercing through the walls, making them crack in their weakness as they surrendered to his strength. “I wish I could hit you with a sharp glass and curve it right around your face, from the tip of your eyebrow right to your under eye. Carve a moon into your mind. To the white bone of your lies.” In the past, he was able to wash off these dangerous emotions from drowning me, but anger now had a stronger rope strangling around the tightness of his throat, waiting to snap its cord and begin its dance with dreadful accusations.
“Then do it! Carve your anger onto my skin. Swear it as your own. Here are my hands for you to take. I offer them palm up as libation to feed your hate. Com’on! Show me. If you were a man, you would take bravery and claim it as a weapon. You would not feel so weak, trying to protect yourself with shame, anger, and defeat. Why do I have to bear the loss all alone? It’s so hard to hold it all by myself. My body is not strong enough to keep it over my own shoulders...”
I fold my arms made out of paper, twisting and ripping the skin beneath the sheets of blue origami. I couldn’t fall asleep. In my bed, I feel the presence of a body breathing next to my own. His face is turned away, revealing a back that is left shapeless. My hand covers the empty space, palm digging deep.
I wish I could wash off my shame from taking hold of me. The words were within grip to offer my release and clemency. They slithered quietly unto my lips to find their territory but were soon ambushed by the overwhelming guilt of careless behaviour and tired disappointment. I couldn’t pull them out of their roots. I used everything I could to tear them from the source of their seeds, to hold them as my own. I used a shovel to dig deep in the earth, sharp shears to cut through the barrier of weeds, my very own hands clawing at them. But, their strength and resilience made my wrist feel weak and my shoulders too heavy, as if I did not deserve to be offered their nutrition to comfort
His sweat was bleeding on his chest to an uncontrollable fluid. The curtains touched the heart within the room. He shut them closed, making the walls lose their pale colours from the silent moon. He spat and slapped my cheek, and then healed it with his lips. The finger on chin, the eyes that followed mine. My body couldn’t fight. It could not escape his bounds. His desires became only his own. He refused to share them with me. The lust he felt was a punishment, and it needed its release on a victim that didn’t have any strength left to scream. There he tore open my naked body, and nowhere was there enough room to spread my wings and flee.
I didn’t know if I was any good. If I was still strong. Strong enough to fight and breathe. Maybe I chewed too hard and was too weak to take another bite. It was too bitter. Too bitter to feel its taste in my mouth. I betrayed my body to him and let him scar me with his dangerous anger. An anger that held tight around the shapes of my hands and fingers.
Still in my bed, the afternoon bade its goodbyes to the electrical current of the evening coming from outside. The rain soon started to fall and the thunder slumbered out its yawns.
I remembered back in the day when he still had a softness on his face. His lashes were brown and thick, almost too heavy to keep his eyes open in front of me. I followed the movement of my finger to his lips, almost touching the petals of a red rose. He was shy, did not share my seduction. But soon enough his mouth bloomed into a ray of gentle white teeth. I imagined him in his underwear. I counted his fingers, his years, his breath, his face. We talked. We screamed. We cried in our deepest sleep. He was a treasure in my imagination… He brushed his hand like paper against my skin, writing words that whispered from his mouth like young poetry. A composure settled between us. We stared for as long as we could, trying to follow the circles of our eyes that continued on and on.
But then I could not hold on to that memory anymore. It became too hard to find him again after time had passed. His wants became too demanding. His desires were the more threatening. He wanted to hold on to love by locking my body as his treasure. My mind could no longer let itself be taken by the current that he pushed unto me. It needed its release and distractions from other men to let the agony calm down to a slow hummer.
After his cries were over, after he had covered my own with his hand over my mouth, our silence revealed a pain that could no longer be sewed back together. My back was against the wall with my forehead buried deep between my knees. He left me there to open the door to the bathroom, crying little mumbles as he took a shower to clean the dirt that had settled on his skin. Mine still had his scent marked everywhere. Even without his grip he still held on to me tightly. The smell invaded my skin already heavy with terrifying pain. My mouth trembled without a voice. It couldn’t find any
freedom to release its breath.
I could feel his rage when he slowly used his hands to touch and abuse my body. The melancholy in his movements revealed themselves on the wounds of my skin. The troubled thoughts that growled within him needed to leave their mark on someone else. And they found their place on my body through red marks and bruises that bloomed with the breath of his lips, before I closed my eyes and opened them again to hear the tears finally breathe alive.
A sharp light trembled into the room with a faint whisper. It soaked my body at around 8 o’clock in the morning as the cars started to sigh their growls from outside streets. Sunday was over.
I woke up with the crawling lines of the evening still lingering on my face. Eyes, coloured chestnut, reach the drips of the sink to cool down the dry crusts that closely shut their sight. Then I reach my own shower, finally willing to clean off the scent of him and reclaim the bounds of my own territory.
My arms grow to the ground, fingers twirling into limbs of morning flowers. Eyes closed. Face curled in. Becoming a child again. Back to the womb of the earth. And I find myself underneath the rocks of the ocean. In a cave of perfumed slumber. Naked. Painted with the oranges and roses from the distant sky. My arms are folded across my chest. My body begins to feel less heavy. I weave my skin slowly with my lips, and my fingers become needle and thread with matching colours of soft cream. I wash myself with salt, scraping the impurities. Returning me to the state of innocent virginity. My back becomes a dreary circle, as my spine stretches itself and cracks out its naked branches.
I still remember the times on a crisp morning Sunday... He would give me a big bottle of smiles, laying it in my hands as a gift to unfold, and I would always drink it vividly like medicine. The Bagel Shop then called on us as its door chimed every few minutes. Its warmth slipped right through his open window... But, Sunday was over. Morning hit me with a stronger light as I got out of the shower. The sounds of the city became louder and brighter as the day gained its energy. I can already hear the soft rhythm of the subway singing a beginning lullaby.
(Re)Imagining Life in the Anthropocene: Sexuality, Veganism, and Eating Dirt
Part I: Conceptualizing Imagination
Twenty-seven years ago, Slavoj Žižek famously and provocatively in his essay “The Specter of Ideology”, a Freudo-Marxist commentary on the state of being under late capitalism, formulated a sweepingly pessimistic declaration, now heavily divulged, that
Up to a or two ago, the system production-nature (man’s productive-exploitative relationship with nature its resources) was perceived as a constant, whereas everybody was busy imaginig different forms of the social organization of production and commerce (Fascism or Communism as alternatives to liberal capitalism); today, as Frederic Jameson perspicaciously remarked, nobody seriously considers possible alternatives to capitalism any longer, whereas popular imagination is persecuted by the visions of the forthcoming ‘breakdown of nature’, of the stoppage of all life on earth—it seems easier to imagine ‘the end of this world’ than a far more modest change in the mode of production, as if liberal-capitalism is the ‘real’ that shall somehow survive even under conditions of a global ecologic catastrophe...1
as a trenchant critique of contemporary cultural imagination’s failure or unwillingness to grapple with its own culpability in masking capitalism’s historical contingency and reproducing its ideological hegemony. While Žižek rightfully pinpoints the uncanny reification of Capital in our post-Fordist economy, he nevertheless repeats a reductive gesture of ontological bifurcation that misrecognizes Death as a radical exteriority to Life itself. In fact, Žižek’s erroneous constitutive division of the apparatus of creation/destruction fundamentally fails to pictorialize a full ontological picture of the actuality we find ourselves in. Against the Imperial metropole where an elaborated governmentality of compartmentalizing and quarantining is imposed upon Death so as to render it unrecognizable to the public sphere of consciousnesses, living directly in the (after)lives of Empire affectively and experientially takes on a conceptually different set of relationalities and meanings for the effected subject. Particularly vulnerable to exploitation and dispossession yet specifically targeted by its ravaging, Indigenous bodies encounters racial capitalism in its very materiality—a certain life-eliminating violence that brings end to life through subduing non-human others in proximity to and affinity with indigenous communities to ecological degradation. The Indigenous subject does not imagine end of life as the teleological denial of being in its fullest sense and damage to the world as the ground for meaningful claims to subjectivity conditions the contours of everyday Indigenous politics. From the settler-colonial health system with its epidemiological assumption of Indigenous “naturalized marginality (‘too isolated to be served’)” and “supposed vulnerability to change by ‘contact’”2 to the naturalized colonial heteropatriarchy that subjects Indigenous peoples disproportionately to HIV/AIDS epidemic through “eliminatin[g] all memory of the gender roles and kin ties that informed traditional
1 Žižek, Slavoj, editor. Mapping Ideology. Verso Books, 1994, pp. 1.
2 Morgensen, Scott Lauria. “Indigenous Transnationalism and the AIDS Pandemic.” Theorizing Native Studies, 2014, pp.
Indigenous community and governance”3, the Indigenous lives with death, of traditions, worlds, and relations.
Living as an “affectable other”4 within a discursive regime of ethnographic entrapment and materially on a “horizon of death”5, the Indigenous, along with other communities living on the margins of Life as well, must confront the end of some life produced by the social order and by extension the possible end of all life. In No Future, the queer theorist Lee Eldman criticizes emancipatory politics’ tendency of aligning with “reproductive futurism” (3) in which a futurity solely thought in the positivist self-same terms of overcoming Capital without a referent of death in the present. By suggesting that radical change to capitalism is more metaphysically real than mass extinction and climate disaster, Žižek dramatically flattens or collapses “the present field of possible experiences”6 that is the phenomenal micropolitics of affective conducting and being conducted into a nominalized hierarchy of actionable items. The ruins of World that we inhabit, irreducible to a set of knowable axioms, at its territoriality is no longer an Immutable Myth of which the kernel houses Absolute Knowledge awaiting Man, but a relational field of entities and realms that are formative of complex interconnectedness, not readily accessible or structurally inaccessible as an object of knowledge to the observer. It requires us to think and imagine that which is worked through the past, belongs to a futurity beyond authentication and affirmation, and evades the settler-colonial real. In this sense, imaginative mediation of worlds, be it an elusive semiotics of Logos or a crystal image of Space-Time, for the subject is a transitory practice occupying the underdetermined intersection of pre-reflective and reflective. To imagine is to induce modifications and transformation at the threshold of the finitude of being and the infinitude of World. The spatial imaginary of an “outside” or “beyond” cannot be simplified as an liberatory geography recognizably exterior to or different from the symbolic order of racial capitalism. In Queer Times, Black Futures, Kara Keeling urges that the affective economy of imagination must leave behind its utopian fixity and embrace its temporally noncorresponding radicality. Specifically, Keeling is invested in arts of the body aimed toward the opaque “after-the-future”, the ghostly conjuring up of “something presently absent: a new relationship between and within matter” (22). Žižek’s Lacanian reading of apocalyptic imaginations as a phantasmatic investiture of the libidinal economy of contemporary capitalism reductively conflates his study of imagination with symptomology, a diagnostic tool that seeks to reveal that which is emerging there and ignores what is here. In “On the Concept of of History” (1940) Walter Benjamin already warned us: “The tradition of the oppressed taches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.”7 Capitalism is the end of the world.
Imagination is not a metaphysical given; instead it can be best read as an affective register of its own ontological fluidity in refusal of biologizing or pure social constructivism. Embodying an investment in Imagination seeks neither regression into the past nor the great leap forward into the future. Therefore, the modern(izing) decree of designating varying categories or zones of intelligibility in parallel to imaginative larger-than-life potentiality runs into an epistemic cul-de-sac. Unbound by crudely technical embodiment, imagination, in flight from a managerial construct of the psychological man, incites and exerts pressure upon the outskirts of normativity.
Returning to specificities of imagination itself, I would like to postulate that the ontological trauma of Death born
3 Lauria, pp. 195.
4 Smith, Andrea. “Native Studies at the Horizon of Death.” Theorizing Native Studies, pp. 209
5 Denise Ferreira da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race, 2007, pp. 27.
6 Foucault, M. (1983). “What is revolution?” In S. Lotringer (Ed.), The politics of truth (pp. 83-95). Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
out of Life as a burgeoning imaginary is neither radically heterogenous to nor epistemologically untranslatable to the revolutionary language of ending capitalism. The capacity to imagine another life exterior to or in the aftermath of this life is in itself conditional upon the imagined temporal horizon in which capitalism will be denaturalized. More importantly, the speculative imaginary of surviving the Anthropocene and the ontologizing imaginary of reviving class struggle define each other in terms of vocabulary available for such intra-psychical activity.
Part II: What is the Anthropocene?
In May 2019, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), consisted of thirty-four members, voted by a large margin of twenty-four to submit a proposal to the International Committee on Stratigraphy in which “Anthropocene” will be recommended as a “true” geological epoch whose starting date should be located in the mid-twentieth century—most likely July 16, 1945, the day of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, or August 5, 1963, on which the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed. The retroactive proclamation of our entrance into the Anthropocene by AWG has had its fair share of criticism and objection.
Who is the Human of the Anthropocene? One might ask. The Human of History only encompasses a particular history of Western hegemony achieved through enslavement and genocide. Following this line of inquiry, Janae Davis offers an exposé of the all-too-privileged, universalized figure of “Human” and proposes an alternative term of “Plantationocene” that captures plantation economies of racial differences inherent to the world-system since the Age of Discovery. She contests that theorizing “embodied plantation ecologies in the United States South and Caribbean [can] demonstrate how an attention to the ways that the enslaved cultivated alternative ways of being while confronting, refusing, and resisting racial violence disallows a move toward multispecies flattening.”8 Challenging the concealment of a racialized and gendered hierarchy of animacy conceived as the fabric of the present-day global World-System, Zoe Todd (Métis/otipemisiw) contests that the Anthropocene should be dated back to 1610 so as not to divorce our present conditions of environmental catastrophes from the history of colonialism and imperialism itself. She speaks of the colonial logic of transforming Nature: the Anthropocene as the extension and enactment of colonial logic systematically erases difference, by way of genocide and forced integration and through projects of climate change that imply the radical transformation of the biosphere. Universalist ideas and ideals are embedded in the colonial project as it was enacted through a brutal system of imposing “the right” way of living. In actively shaping the territories where colonizers invaded, they refused to see what was in front of them; instead forcing a landscape, climate, flora, and fauna into an idealized version of the world modelled on sameness and replication of the homeland.9
The colonization of present-day Americas already marked the entrance into the Anthropocene, long before the Great Acceleration of the twentieth century. Hence, to think about the Anthropocene as an extension of colonial modernity and imagine its afterlife is to again encounter a strange temporality residing in-between biology and sociality: the non-linear unequal distribution and transmission of dispossession and elimination across times and spaces that never quietly retreats into the mythical backdrop of Nature onto which the Carbon Ages enact its Technology. The past violent reorganizing of lifeforms and worlds
8 Davis, Janae, et al. “Anthropocene, capitalocene,… plantationocene?: A manifesto for ecological justice in an age of global crises.” Geography Compass 13.5 (2019), pp. 7.
9 Davis, Heather, and Zoe Todd. “On the Importance of a Date, or, Decolonizing the Anthropocene.” ACME: an international journal for critical geographies 16.4 (2017): pp. 769.
ghostly haunts the present. Traces of former layers of violence secretively resurfaces in the present, conditions our actuality in a manner elusive to the visual field of Multicultural Difference, and binds itself to the future.
We are living with corpses from the last upheaval of Apocalypse. The ontological afterlife of the dead, in spite of our denial, continues to create conditions of possibility for climate change and toxic embodiments. Our current ecological crisis, far from accidental acts of greed or miscalculation capable of being repaired by Science and its expertise, will not resolve until a collective recognition that the ongoing end of world is and has always been among us arrives. Apocalypse is here
I would like to return to Walter Benjamin’s mystical anthropology here to fully elaborate on the troubled historicity of the Anthropocene. In “On the Concept of History” Benjamin speaks of the urgency to recuperate our memory from its continuous extraction by capitalist modernity. For him, it is as an intergenerational task of interpretation and beyond one’s present time. He wrote in his second thesis:
The past carries with it a secret index by which it is referred to redemption. Doesn’t a breath of the air that pervaded earlier days caress us as well? In the voices we hear, isn’t there echo of now silent ones? Don’t the women we court have sisters they no longer recognize? If so, then there is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Then our coming was expected on earth. Then, like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power on which the past has a claim. Such a claim cannot be settled cheaply. The historical materialist is aware of this.
Aerial and esoteric, Benjamin’s second thesis on History elegantly is a cautionary tale against the teleological anthropology of Man as Agent of Progress. For Benjamin, moving through and surviving History charges the modern subject with obligations, the remembrance of loss and the gesture toward reparation. The evocation of past suffering in the present shakes up Modernity’s illusory pretention to a fetishized temporality of impermanence. Uncritically reading the Anthropocene only as a material condition, defined by the excess of carbon emission in the atmosphere, per the understanding of AWG, freezes climate change and mass extinction as materialized abstraction, up in the air, one could say, only to be idealized again as statistics and graphs in the service of green capitalism and global environmental governance. The decolonization of the Anthropocene both as an atemporal transhuman event and a transcendental signifier necessarily requires a particular kind of historicizing that traces the sonic reverberations of distant eruptions of life-and-death struggle and ontologizing that directs attention to the microphysics of bodily immediacy and spiritual specificity.
Part III: Detangling Anthropocentrism from Sexuality
In 1905, toward the very end of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber eloquently offered an eschatology of modern life under Capital, the new God of Modernity, who is equally, if not more, ineffable and transcendental. Quoted in its completeness, Weber wrote:
The Puritan wanted to work in calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the ‘saint like a
light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment.’ But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage.10 More than one hundred years later after Weber’s prediction, the “last ton of fossilized coal” has yet to be extracted and burnt yet our conditions of being have scald up beyond Weber’s imagination. Yet the danger of our ongoing ecological crisis has become an utterance of opacity to the Western subject, albeit the vocalized callings of the greatest urgency on the part of climate scientists. Right-wing populisms of the Global North, mobilized by racial melancholia and post-industrial abandonment, have declared a war of disinformation and conspiracy theory upon the very reality climate change.
An ecofeminist genealogical investigation into the etymological and ideological paradigm of the originary term “Anthropos”, derivative of the name for our current geological epoch, has long revealed that its symbolic domain, composed of skyscrapers, offshore oil-drilling rigs, coal-mining hydraulic jacks, pipelines, and so on, is a detached, disembodied, omnipotent, permanently erected Phallus. If Marx and Marxism have revealed for us the ways in which God was transposed onto Capital during colonial modernity, then our current theoretical project can be best summarized as a (re)mapping of the desiring subject, per Michel Foucault’s analysis in The Will to Knowledge, in which the boundary among God, Capital, and (Phallic) Desire become porous and indistinguishable to the modern subject.
Desire is the symbolic economy of the Anthropocene, defined by a heterosexual, male chauvinist logic of penetration and conquer. The interplay of desire and neoliberal political economy subjugates the subject to the Iron Cage that is the self-same, repetitive, endlessly flowing circuit of money-labor-property, heteropatriarchal nuclear family, and consuming-as-survival. Indeed, the desire for self-referential accumulation in the Anthropocene, disavowing its lack of a telos, has become a tautological machinery of self-citation and incitation, a self-referential imperative for producing and consuming more. It Oedipalizes the biopolitical logic of “making live, letting die” insofar as the material and social relations of such desire (re)affirms and authenticates some lifeforms as the universalized, legitimatized enjoying subject and pushes others toward the edge of death and extinction. This language of sex-murder, taken as the very structure of our ethical consideration, has saturated the neoliberal imaginary of global environmental governance: The Mother Earth is weeping, for her unscrupulous, demanding (male) child is sucking life-granting blood (Oil!) out of her breast for his own enjoyment and emptying out her Life.
Who is the Mother Earth? Gendered (perhaps racialized) language of ethical consumption and neoliberal environmentalism depicts her as a sexually passive caretaker victimized by her own nurturing impulses. A moment of conscience is all it takes for the frivolous child of Humanity to realize his own condescension and entitlement. “Save the Plant!” With a turning heart, the reformed child proclaims. Against such heteropatriarchal imaginary, ecofeminist Jane Caputi demands a Planetary reimagination of Earth, more than the humanistic notion of the globe under The White Man’s stewardship. Caputi mockingly pinpoints that the psychosexual drama of the Anthropos against the Earth Mother is nothing but an elaborately staged suicide mission: The Anthropocene discredits these and other powers of the Earth Mother, projecting her as enfeebled, as replaceable by a synthetic, controlled object, and as the ultimate victim of their phallic interference. But this is so wrong. However
much the Anthropocenic culture tries to ‘fuck’ the Mother to death, it is not capable of this – though it can do enormous amounts of damage to other beings and ultimately may take out all of humanity as well. But Earth/Nature is no passive victim, unable to resist. Indeed, Earth herself is the ultimate ‘Muthafucka.’11
Making a broader and more expansive connection between sexuality and the Anthropocene than Caputi’s dissection of the psychical transference of the discursive field of contemporary ecological imaginary, I would like to suggest that recent proliferations of identarian social-religious-ecological movements that explicitly reject the narrative of Species Man and demands a (re)turn to the pre-Enlightenment, aestheticized, and depoliticized sensibility of sacred Nature. Be it the more animist Deep Ecology or the neohippie Fuck for Forest, ecological movements inspired by New Age revival and modern paganism, in spite of their sometimes blatant fetishization and appropriation of Indigenous cosmic order, cannot achieve its fundamental aspiration that is the restoration of Nature unmediated by Technology, a reframing of technological determinism that fails to consider Technology as an independent horizon of agency that is irreducible to the story of the Toolmaking Anthropos. Contemporary counterculture’s misrecognition of Nature as a wounded or lost ancestor that can recovered or rediscovered through a shifted positionality of care and love is perhaps its greatest pitfall. Neo-paganism and neo-animism must confront its own replication of the Nature/Culture divide, achieved through allowing questions of Technology to befall its sphere of consciousness.
Revisiting the figure of Gaia, a primordial deity and the ancestral mother of all life from Greek mythology, Bruno Latour in Facing Gaia (2017) speaks of the mythical power derivative of story-telling. In spite of Gaia’s marginal status within the canon of Greek mythology, Latour insists that he is resistant to the anthropomorphist and naturalizing language of reviving a vanished deity and on the contrary is concerned with a novel narrative of climate politics in the time of crisis. According to Latour, Gaia’s stories are our geohistorical stories, neither a secular investment in the explanatory jurisdiction of organic biology nor a theological commitment to the master manipulator of earthly affairs exceeding human agency. Instead, Latour, against the zeitgeist that is the artificialization of Earth that “is making the notion of ‘nature’ as obsolete as that of ‘wilderness’12, is in Facing Gaia sketching out a picture of futurity that will radically repoliticize the environmental situatedness of our very being. Despite an insistence on characterizing Gaia as an event in the Badiouan sense, Latour finds his environmental philosophy reaching its affective/effective peak when Gaia is approximated through the ambivalently misogynistic and decidedly modern figure of femme fatale. Gaia is a dormant goddess of time immemorial (“a force from the time before the gods”13) who shall not be named by her mortal counterpart (“a thousand names”14). However, Latour denies a maternal representation of Gaia common to modern environmental language only to reduce Gaia to her sexuality. The very threat or intrusion advanced by Gaia that Latour attempts to warn of us is her masterful seduction and cruel castration of her enemies. Latour circles back to mythologizing Gaia as a goddess of great intrigue who can see to the downfall of gods and monsters who can physically overpower her:
11 Caputi, Jane. “Mother Earth meets the Anthropocene: An intersectional ecofeminist analysis.” Systemic Crises of Global Climate Change. Routledge, 2016, pp. 30.
12 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 121.
13 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 8.
14 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 82.
Gaia was the first to invent the horrible stratagem that would allow her to get rid of the oppressing weight of her husband Uranus…Her cunning is manifested first of all in the fact that she never commits abominable crimes herself, but always makes use of those in whom she inspires vengeance as intermediaries. She endlessly goads her immense progeniture of monsters and gods into assassinating one another!15 Latour relies on the Orientalist trope of fetishizing non-white feminine bodies (“A chthonic power, dark-skinned, dark-haired and somber”16), and Oedipalizes her as a “cruel and bloody stepmother” who will “drive her children crazy”17. If Latour’s readers strip away the voyeuristic metaphysics of Gaia, which falls back on Freud’s dark continent of femininity and Lacan’s Antigone, a point of excess as pure lack, that which cannot be universalized through Sovereign, from his ontologizing the new Nature as an entity exceeding the binary logic of System/anti-System, One/ Multiple, or Life/Death, one would soon realize that Latour is, at best, proving that an ahistorical anti-modernism contains the failed disavowal of modernity within itself, or at worst, celebrates a reactionary apocalypticism that demands a return to the Commons for the coming Judgement. The universal, cosmopolitan fantasy of resurrecting a transnational, trans historical destiny won’t sell anymore. Living in the ruins is not our futurity; it is our present. Latour’s more materialist conceptions of life in the Anthropocene, however, can be appropriated as political leverages for the project of decolonization. In Down to Earth (2018), Latour criticizes the privileged role of historical materialism within environmental socialism which reduces politics into class relations and systems of production. To Latour, a materialism without materials will fail to grasp the nature of life in the Anthropocene. Advocating for a new kind of subjectivity termed “the Earthbound”, Latour asks the modern subjects of economics to rematerialize their belonging to land as a situated dwelling. Think locally, Latour urges us, which is to identify our physical dependence on soil, air, and water, animals, plants, and many other acting agents and to recognize that each one of them has different needs and desires that in spite of possible overlapping or intersecting ultimately are intendent of our needs and desires. Each one of us is bound within “a system of engendering”18 that encompasses all localized movements of genesis and effect. Each system of engendering is distinctly differentiated, ungovernable by a Global politics that fantasizes a non-differentiated horizon of progress. Yet politics is not an empty signifier but simply is transformed into a consideration of how each localized system can externally act on and be acted on by adjacent systems. No system can be spatially and temporally isolated.
The 2013 documentary Goodbye Gauley Mountain illustrates the proliferation of subjectivities when the very materiality of life itself becomes a concern of politics, or in Latour’s words, when the modern subject is reanimated as the Earthbound, whose ground of becoming depends on soil and mud. A poetic meditation on post-industrial abandonment, cancerous bodies, and living in ruination, Goodbye Gauley Mountain chronicles the returning of artist Elizabeth Stephens to grief-stricken towns in West Virginia, her home state, along with her partner Annie Sprinkle. Through interviewing local anti-mining activists, Stephens and Sprinkle explore the otherworldly subject who escapes the neoliberal imaginary of consumption and possession as subjectivity. As one interviewee recalls with sorrow how mountain top removal (MTR), understood
15 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 82-83
16 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 83
17 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 280
18 Latour, Facing Gaia, pp. 86
as a genocidal practice by him, transforms mountains into molehills. Another interviewee mourns the perceived lifelessness of the ruins of harmed mountains, who are now sold to international mining corporations. Throughout the documentary, MTR has been described as a form of interference with bodily autonomy of mountains and people who have generational ties with mountains. Reflecting on a racialized history of mining accidents—bodies of non-white foreign workers were usually silently left underground and ignored by environmental documentaries about former mining towns—Stephens lamented how one is always with the mountains of Appalachia. For the elderly neighbors of Stephens, it means a familial tie that cannot be severed. The river, filled with sludge, has become undrinkable for and thus alienated from them. Appalachian herbal medicine, reliant the fecundity of mountains, would soon be a lost tradition to future generations. For Stephens, who now live based in San Francisco, the mountainous landscape taught her lessons on resilience and inspired her to flourish in a world hostile to queer women.
Undoing mountains is undoing subjectivity. The psychical ecology of Appalachians is imbued with an intersubjective openness to the place of dwelling and its affective potentials. Unlike the Anthropos who represents Nature as a pure, unmediated ground that only enters the social though being abstracted as an object of thinking for the disembodied spokesperson of Capital, subjectivity in Goodbye Gauley Mountain thoroughly rejects the Cartesian dualism of Nature/Culture divide: The mountains of Appalachia are always already a thinking agent that produces knowledge. Rejecting the Western notion of knowledge that privileges thinking and abstraction, Vanessa Watts (Bear Clan, Six Nations) instead affirms PlaceThought, animating knowledge production as a circuit of receptivity and interconnectedness where human and non-human beings derive agency from matters of “alive”19 land.
In an act of refusal to be estranged from matter and place, Stephens and Sprinkle married themselves to Appalachian Mountains. Vowing to take on the non-visible under-the-skin respons(e)ibility of a partner who listens, thinks with, and lets in an otherly touch, Stephens and Sprinkle are determined to defend Appalachian Mountains against pollution. The terms of survival of both parties, although drastically different, convene in a fight against the infectious foreign bodies of poison and toxicity.
Pollen-amorous and ecosexual, the duo of Stephens and Sprinkle has married multiple partners, from the Moon to the ocean. Perhaps their most prominent lover/partner is the Earth, whom they married back in 2008. Eleven years later, another documentary Water Makes Us Wet was released, taking a more personal yet no less political turn. Water Makes Us Wet covers a range of topics integral to the ecosexual position, ranging from the gender politics of the Earth to the racialized imaginary of purity that forcefully maintains a binary opposition of clean/unclean. Reframing the ecosexual subject as an economy of pleasure grounded in everyday interactions with Nature, Stephens and Sprinkle resist, qua Foucault in History of Sexuality, the Western scientia sexualis which since Freud has instituted the subject’s detachment from the maternal figure as Law and move toward an ethics of erotics that reanimates the body as a ground of (re)attachment to the radical alterity of the Earth. The two ecosexuals admit that they know nothing about the Earth. In the documentary, speculations regarding the Earth are raised, with little result. The Earth is certainly not the Mother Earth. Is the Earth transgender? Does the Earth love Stephens and Sprinkle back? The duo confesses that the Earth is a radical alterity who demands a reimagination of care. One 19 Watts, Vanessa. “Indigenous place-thought and agency amongst humans and non humans (First Woman and Sky Woman go on a European world tour!).” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2.1 (2013).
of their experimentation with practicing care is confronting the materiality of water, referred to as H2O in the documentary. Touring an H2O purification plant, Stephens and Sprinkle critically reexamine the racial mandate of sanitation that constructs certain bodies lacking access to purified water (in itself a myth) as impoverished and unclean. However, as the duo playfully resuscitates the erotic messiness of matter in bodily contact with H2O, the inside-outside, subject-object divide that sustains ontological purity becomes undone. The a priori uncontaminated self to which the subject can be restored is a colonial ideality that conceals the specificities of affective entanglements with other time-spaces. Embracing the pleasures of impurity necessarily activates “destabilization [outside the libidinal economy] effected on the subject of power”20 and a dirty, dusty, and ultimately messy (eco)cyborg-becoming.
The ecosexual position, operating under the ontological indebtedness of the cyborg, disavows the self-owning subject’s possessive demand for recognition. Stephens and Sprinkle’s matrimony with the Earth rejects the inauthentic authenticity of reciprocity of affection; instead it is a mode of identification that circulates “through multilateral asymmetrical agencies that don’t follow unidirectional patters of individual intentionality”21 and problematizes normative categories of sex and love by exposing the natural, reproductive family as a site of oppressive power relations. Rewriting Donna Haraway’s (in)famous motto “make kin, not babies”, Stephens and Sprinkle urge us: Make love to trees, clouds, or the Moon, but not humans!
To that end, Turtle Mountain Chippewa scholar Melissa Nelson denaturalizes the logocentric, phallocentric settler sexuality by foregrounding “getting dirty” or Indigenous eco-erotics—biophilic encounters with non-human others and inanimate objects that are pansexual, transspecies, carnal, kinship-forming, and knowledge-producing—as the sexuality proper. Infinitely beyond the psychoanalyst’s couch or the empire’s homonormative intimacy, eco-ecrotics, located in Anishinaabeg and Coast Yuki stories of women forming intimate relations with star, stick, wind, beaver, and so on, completely bypasses the queer refusal of sexual subjectivization that ironically posits sexuality as the erotic register through which “transitive logics” of “transracial transformations”22 of settler colonialism become possible. Nelson’s stories desexualize the queer, not as a subjectless figure, but as an animating placation that regenerates our corporeal movements outside the ego. Eco-erotics literally goes beyond the pleasure principle as there is no subject to begin with. Nelson declares: “Nature is sex, sex is nature, and we are nature” and posits the ethical dimension of eco-erotics:
Walking barefoot on the earth; drinking a cold glass of water; eating a fresh summer peach; breathing in warm air— these basic, often unconscious daily acts are not in fact mundane but are sublime and sensuous eco-erotic connections to the more-than-human world. If we truly felt this, in our guts, in our cells, would we continue to poison our soils and water? Mine our mountains? Genetically alter our seeds? I think not.23
In this passage, Nelson considers the connection between logics of purism and paternalism that discursively construct the neoliberal subject as a micro-sovereign capable of mastering bodily desires and becoming and the sexual politics of Cartesian subjectivity that manages sexuality as a site of fixity founded upon spirit/matter binary opposition.
20 Trumbull, Robert. “Freud Beyond Foucault: Thinking Pleasure as a Site of Resistance.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, vol. 32, no. 3, Penn State University Press, 2018, pp. 531.
21 Puig de la Bellacasa, María. Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp. 121.
22 Byrd, Jodi A. “Loving Unbecoming.” Critically Sovereign. Duke University Press, 2017, pp. 225-226.
23 Nelson, Melissa K. “Getting Dirty” Critically Sovereign, pp. 233-235.
Instead, we must imagine sexuality as our very ontology, decentered, omnipresent, and fluid. Playing on the phonological adjacency between oral sex and eating food in her grandmother’s language, Nelson challenges the unnatural privileging of modern sexuality as the analytic through which a subject of truth is revealed. Drawing on Indigenous science which posits Deep Love as Law of Nature, Nelson demonstrates that modern sexuality onto which a desiring subject finds its ground is an empty category, as the cosmology of Indigenous is fundamentally operative through the gravitational movements of pleasure and affection that connect us on the level of electrons, molecules, and particles. Eco-erotic is autoerotic because the cosmos does not differentiate a sensing self and an other that is being sensed. Thus, decolonization of the body-mind-land necessarily theorizes everyday practice by which life achieves and sustains its materiality as an infinitely more expansive and generative practice that is always already situated in a relational web of respons(e)ibility.
Eating is pansexual not in the Freudian sense but in the sense that it cannot, according to logics of neo-Cartesian dualism, be framed as an individual choice. Eating itself is a system of engendering that ethically and ontological entangles the eating self with chains of agents and matters. On a biochemical level, the body shapes and is being shaped by bacteria and virus. On the level of ethology, the very act of searching for food, such as hunting, is not ontologically independent, as demonstrated by Zoe Todd, who argues that fishing should not be understood as preying upon per Western traditions. Instead, Zodd examines the negotiation and resistance of fish populations by looking at Paulatuuq people’s knowledge of fishery and their gratitude for fish’s sacrifice.24 In terms of ethical consideration, eating must necessarily involve thinking modern subjectivity through animals, who status is shaped settler colonial expansion and its byproduct animal agriculture.
Mi’kmaq scholar Margaret Robinson connects decolonization with veganism through a critique of the meat industry’s patriarchal masculinist imaginary that subjugates animals as objects of appropriation and the ways in which corporatization of food supply chain destroys the environment and Indigenous people’s kinship with non-human others25. Similarly, scholars of imperialism and colonialism have analyzed the dairy industry in North America as an ideological vector through which land-grabbing, whiteness, and colonial family ideologies are justified—the shaping of modern eating practice is intimately connected to the power relations imperial settler sexuality26. Contesting the individualist, consumerist practice of veganism, often co-opted by racial logics of moral purity, Dakota scholar Kim TallBear locates dispossession of land as a material reality that disallows Indigenous people’s traditional formation of kinship with animals27. For many members of Indigenous communities, eating mass-produced meat made through exploitation is an act of survival in the aftermath of economic marginalization and dispossession.
In conclusion, Decolonization requires us to leave surpasses politics of recognition/reconciliation behind
24 Todd, Zoe. “Fish pluralities: Human-animal relations and sites of engagement in Paulatuuq, Arctic Canada.” Études/Inuit/Studies 38.1-2 (2014): 217-238.
25 Robinson, Margaret. “Veganism and Mi’kmaq legends.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 33.1 (2013): 189196.
26 Deckha, Maneesha. “Veganism, dairy, and decolonization”. Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 11.2: 244-267.
27 TallBear, Kim. “Being in Relation.” Messy Eating: Conversations on Animals as Food, edited by Samantha King et al., 1st ed., Fordham University Press, 2019, pp. 54–67.
and point to a beyond (amidst its own temporal paradox) in which life-and-death struggle with regimes of settler colonialism is located in everyday practice that connects subjects of resistance together in kinships and relationalities. In this paper, situating the three threads of sexuality, food, and ecology under the scope of imagination, I attempted to explore another earth where responsibility to and accountability for different worlds of being and becoming, unable to be collapsed into a singular realm of existence, can be located and postulate specificities of onto-epistemological positionalities, conditioned by materiality yet exceeding currently existing social and economic relations.
Editors of this Journal
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