the queer ecologies and radical ontologies sympoiesis card deck is a way of exploring ourselves together. print the images and use the words to play.
In 1998, a Canadian environmental studies graduate student named M. Beth Dempster suggested the term sympoiesis for “collectively-producing systems that do not have self-defined spatial or temporal boundaries. Information and control are distributed among components. The systems are evolutionary and have the potential for surprising change.”~ Donna Haraway Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. p. 78
What is queer ecology? Or queer ecologies? It is not a singular classification project, but a multiplicity of thought that joins queer theory and environmental justice with influence from ecofeminism and science studies among other things.
Are we merely attempting to queer ecology? Or to locate queerness in “nature” in order to “naturalize” queerness? There is perhaps no definitive answer, which is grand. We can revel in the multiple sites of possible emergent worldings as we make sense and nonsense of our queer habitats in this time of late capitalism and civilizational collapse. In part, the potency of queerness has always been in its diffuse indecipherablity which resists hegemonic doctrine. By refusing to be categorized or to conform to normative relations we open portals to epistemologies and ontologies which offer alternatives to the world killing patriarchal regimes of the last few millennia.
Biology and (by extension) ecology are western epistemologies rooted in particular political projects which have served to erase other ways of knowing and being. At the heart at this project is the false notion of the individual, as a political and biological subject, this lie has persisted at every level in spite of the deep interconnection of all life. *
Let us resist the urge of the anthropocentric trend to put our conceptions and labels on what we see in the ecosphere around us, let us also deny the normalizing gesture of locating queerness in “nature” and thus “naturalizing” our queer ontologies. Can we be inspired to hold the complexity of our entwined natureculture, and to participate in a visionary quest to meet the elements and phenomena on co-constitutive terms—where our minds and understanding are expanded by the immense queerness that resides in the world around us in terms that are inconceivable from where we currently stand?
Imagine your gender and body are lichens. What are the parts? What is the outfit?
Lichens are beautiful, complex and simple multispecies assemblages which consistently defy attempts at taxonomic categorization. These organisms, or collectivities comprised of various fungal, bacterial, algael, and even yeasty partnerships in symbiosis can represent the queerness of “nature” itself which undo the “natureculture” of the socially situated project of (hetero)normativizing biology with its overemphasis on (hetero)sexual reproduction over the vast array of production and reproduction happening at various scales in the world at every moment.
Taking after the lichen, a possible gender identification a person could inhabit is “multispecies collectivity” or “assemblage” or simply “multiplicity”, which de-emphasize the centrality of the human parts which comprise the superorganism or holobiont (holobiont is an assemblage of several or many species living entangled, which together form a discrete ecological unit) which we call a body and take to be a self. Acknowledging that each of us contain multitudes and are ourselves queer multispecies assemblages, we do not locate queerness in gender or sexuality specifically.
Wind pollination. What is a wind blown sexuality? Stand, sit, lay down, imagine, and feel the possibility of a sexuality centered around wind and interaction with the other elements. what does it feel like feel the wind in relation to another body?
This species of fungi has 23,328 distinct mating types. Imagine the possibilities….
* A Symbiotoic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals. Scott F. Gilbert, Jan Sapp, and Alfred I. Tauber https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/668166