Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, and Philosophy

Stacy Alaimo: Exposed

We’re always immersed in the material world. It’s never somewhere else and it cannot be contained in ways that we can control and predict.
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Stacy Alaimo discusses her book ExposedEnvironmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times with Chris Richardson. Alaimo has written about the often troublesome relations between environmentalisms and intersectional feminisms in her first three books, Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space; Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self, and Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times. She co-edited Material Feminisms, edited the volume Matter, and is editing (with Nicole Starosielski and Courtney Berger) a new book series at Duke, entitled “Elements.” Her theory of “trans-corporeality” merges new materialism, material feminism, environmentalism, and posthumanism. She is currently writing about how the aesthetic circulates across the science, art, and popular culture of the deep sea. She loves diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, hiking, biking, and viewing architecture and art. Her fantasies include running off to join the Sea Shepherds.

RECOMMENDED READINGS

One of the chapters in Exposed, “Eluding Capture,” delights in the diversity of nonhuman sexual pleasures. Bagemihl’s monumental study, Biological Exhuberance is a compendium of wonders, an astonishing queer bestiary, and a rigorous argument for why the sexual diversity of nonhuman animals matters. Along with Joan Roughgarden’s Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People and the work of Myra Hird, Biological Exuberance provoked me to think with queer animals and investigate why cultural theorists have often relegated them to a closet of insignificance.

Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway profoundly influenced my conception of trans-corporeality that I introduced in Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self and extend more broadly throughout Exposed. Barad’s argument that entities do not precede their relations grounds a thoroughly ungrounded sense of radical interrelationality and a robust sense of material agency.  Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway is a tour de force of new materialism, posthumanism, material feminism, and science and technology studies. Read it and be awestruck.

While I don’t write about petrocultures, LeMenager’s Living Oil is the perfect companion for Exposed, as it vividly, immersively, traces—through history, literature, art, daily life, and extractive catastrophes--what it means for us to be living in oil. This beautifully written book delves into petrotopias, petromelancholia, the aesthetics of petroleum, and what it might mean to feel ecological in a petrol world.

While Exposed inhabits the contemporary moment, Cohen’s Stone moves across vast historical expanses, tracing the ecologies of the lithic and the interconnections between enchantment, estrangement, and inhuman agency. A philosophical and poetic excursion, Stone contemplates the geologic turn, geophilia, surprising human/lithic enmeshments, and queer petric vivacity.

There is no better introduction to posthumanism than this widely ranging, accessible text, which includes feminist, race, and queer theory and concludes with a call to transform the humanities into the transdisciplinary posthumanities—-a humanities without “Man” at the center. Braidotti’s radical immanence parallels my insistence on trans-corporeality and other modes of immersive thinking and being. I think there are many fruitful alliances and affinities between our arguments and positions.