Dr. Tara Mehrabi’s Talk at KTH Royal Insitute of Technology Stockholm (6th November)

The Posthumanities Hub has a great pleasure to welcome to KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm our guest, Dr. Tara Mehrabi (University of Turku, FI/Karlstad University, SE).

On 6th November Dr. Mehrabi gives a talk on “Queer Ecologies of Death” at KTH.

OBS!!! The event takes place in the seminar room at Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Insitute of Technology in Stockholm (address: Teknikringen 74 D, 5th floor).

It is open to the public and free of charge.

Queer Ecologies of Death

Abstract:
In this paper I explore the human-fly relation within the context of laboratory sciences. I rely on my ethnographic material collected from one year of participatory observation in an Alzheimer’s laboratory in Sweden in which scientists work with Drosophila Melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies. Drawing on new materialism, posthuman theories and queer theories I explore queer ecologies of death. In other words, I explore how flies bodies as waste crosses the boundaries of natural/artificial, inside/outside, nature/laboratory, safe/hazardous and life/death. I argue that thinking with queer ecologies of death suggests understanding of nature, agency, non/human, and intimacy in ways that goes beyond the limits of human exceptionalism and hierarchical binary logic.

Bio:
Tara Mehrabi, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Unit of Gender Studies, University of Turku (Finland) and Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University (Sweden). She is a feminist technoscience studies scholar who is interested in the intersection of gender studies, medical humanities and environmental humanities. Her doctoral dissertation, Making Death Matter (2016), is an ethnographic study of Alzheimer’s sciences in a Drosophila lab from a feminist materialism perspective. She is a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network. Website: https://taramehrabi.wordpress.com/.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: EASCLE Webinar on ‘Toxic Embodiment’ by Prof. Cecilia Åsberg and Dr. Marietta Radomska

Photo: Cecilia Åsberg

Join us for the EASCLE Webinar on ‘Toxic Embodiment’ – for more info click HERE.

Webinar: ‘Toxic Embodiment’

By Prof. Cecilia Åsberg and Dr. Marietta Radomska

Sat, Aug 25th, 10:30-12:00 CEST.

REGISTER HERE

Existential concerns around environmental health today involve a much wider set of issues (and a wider set of bodies) as we intra-act with antibiotics, nanoparticles, and untested chemical cocktails through the food we eat, the make-up we wear, the new sofas we sit on, or the environments we dwell in. We are more acutely aware today of how we are in nature, and nature – polluted as it may be – in us. With the recognition of the ecological crisis and its gravity, we have – according to some scientific experts – entered a new geological period: the Anthropocene, in which it is the human who constitutes the biggest threat to the survival of the earth and its human as well as more-than-human inhabitants.

Through the proliferation of plastics and chemical pollution more generally, petrochemicals constitute in effect forms of social, material, and biological writing of toxic embodiment. This makes toxic embodiment an urgent concern for environmental humanities and for environmental literacies at large.

Advancements in genetic engineering, the chemicalization of food production, and the rapid growth of the pharmaceutical industry have made human, animal, and plant embodiments simultaneously enhanced and debilitated. They become ‘toxic bodies’, ‘pharmaceutical subjects’, and they leave a toxic footprint in the world.

By approaching the theme of ‘toxic embodiment’ from a broad and transdisciplinary perspective (eco-cultural studies; body and gender studies; medicine and life sciences; posthumanities; science, technology, and society; and, especially, the environmental humanities), this webinar will explore the risks and the opportunities that these changes may bring.

More specifically, the session will engage with the topic of toxic embodiment as our always-already environed technobodies, and how they/we are shaped by health norms and toxic realities that put into question the notions of health and disease, vulnerability and well-being, as well as life/death, and the dis/ability of the ‘natural’ human body. Here, the ‘human’ emerges as a set of toxic embodiments – ones that are radically tethered to, or shaped by, their milieus, including their more-than-human companions (synthetic molecules, microbes, fungi, plants, and animals), and the ways they/we all come together.

 

Inspirational questions:

  1.  How do questions of toxicity and its impact on both human and nonhuman bodies influence environmental discourses? How do they influence the articulation of environmental problems? What kind of imaginaries do they mobilise and what futures do they seek to envision?
  2. What conceptualisations of the body emerge from the present narratives on toxicity? What are the understandings of the subject that are (re)produced through these narratives?
  3. Environmental discourses that engage with the issues of toxicity often put emphasis on the ideas of the natural and the anthropogenic, the normal and the abnormal, as well as health and illness. How are these notions understood in the context of the webinar readings? Are they reworked or abandoned? What does the enquiry of toxic embodiment do to their conventional understandings?
  4. What new approaches, methodologies, and methods does the work on toxic embodiment offer?

Primary literature:

Ah-King, Malin and Eva Hayward. 2013. ‘Toxic Sexes: Perverting Pollution and Queering Hormone Disruption’. O-zone: A journal of object-oriented studies 1: 1-12. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/6368781/Toxic_sexes_Perverting_pollution_and_queering_hormone_disruption

Alaimo, Stacy. 2016. ‘Conclusion’ in Exposed. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. Available at: https://dearchivecollaboration.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/alaimo-from-exposed.pdf

Chen, Mel Y. 2011. ‘Toxic Animacies. Inanimate Affections’. GLQ 17(2-3): 265-286. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1163400

Davis, Heather. 2015. ‘Toxic Progeny: The Plastisphere and Other Queer Futures.’ philoSOPHIA 5 (2): 231-250. Available at: http://heathermdavis.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Philosophia_Davis.pdf

Additional readings:

Zahara, Alexander R.D. and Myra Hird. 2015. ‘Raven, Dog, Human: Inhuman Colonialism and Unsettling Cosmologies’. Environmental Humanities 7: 169-190. Available at: http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol7/7.9.pdf

Giovanna DiChiro (2010) ‘Polluted Politics? Confronting Toxic Discourse, Sex Panic, and Eco-Normativity’ in Queer Ecologies, eds. C. Sandilands & B. Erickson. Bloomington: Indiana University Press: 199-230.

Haraway, Donna. 2016. ‘Awash in Urine: DES and Premarin in Multispecies Response-ability’ in Staying with the Trouble. Durham: Duke University Press: 104-116.