Exploring Queer Ecology

Nicole Seymour’s section in Companion to Environmental Studies on Queer Ecology cover’s queer ecology as a conceptual framework for understanding the intersection of sexual and environmental issues. It considers how heterosexuality in particular as a human norm influences how we relate with the natural world. Activism and art have been a large part of this discussion, peices of queer ecology have come from queer theory, posthuman studies, feminism, and evolutionary biology to nme a few of the diverse disciplines. Seymore says that the modern sexual identities arose with the rise of neoliberal capitalism and carbon-based economies. Typically, according to Seymore the natural is depicted as reproductivity, health, futurity and heterosexuality. The queer, she argues is associated with urbanity, disease, and death. Queer ecology challenges these associations, pointing out there the treatment of queers and treatment of nature have things in common. Queer ecology has an interesting relationship with science, often focusing on how heteronormativity either creates bias in scientific observation or using scienticif findings to deconstruct heterosexuality and what is “normal” sexuality in nature. In addition, considering how gender and sexuality are constructions can stretch to a consideration how the purity of nature is a construction. There is an argument that is queerness is a deviation from the norm, then evolutionary biology itself can be considered queer becuase of it relies of a deviation from the norm. Seymore describes how queer ecology is both abstract and theoretical in nature as well as situated in spaces such as rural farm spaces, camgrounds and public parks. She covers debates and critisisms of queer ecology, arguing that while some advocate specifically for LGBTQ communities through critisism, others generalize the term, therefore neutrilizing its political implications. She discusses how queer ecology has been developed primarily why white scholars, although it aims to challenge the whiteness of mainstream environmentalism. Seymour mentions that queer ecology is diversifying, with many contributions coming from Japan and brazil,as well as a queer ecological politis of gentrification emerging to study how public greening projects lead to gentrification. In addition, she mentions how in the future queer ecology may be used more frequently as tool for grappling with our current messy reality instead falling into overly  optimistic or extremist camps. 

This discussion of how queer ecology can encourage us to confront a messy reality seems like is might fall under the cartegory of generalizing and neutralizing the term queer. I don’t think that means it shouldnt be used in that way, in fact I really like the idea of queer ecology as a toll for a messy reality. However, I think further discussion needs to be had about how to do this without politically neutrilizing the term queer, if that is possible, and how to proceed if not. 

I am thinking of using queer theory in my theory framework, to discuss artists who are effetively sitting with messy and complex realities without drfitng towards extremism. This chapter was important for me to consider because of the potential problem that I mentioned above, regarding the challenge of using queer theory to discuss something that diverges from discussion of LGBTQ communities without neutrilizing or generalizing the term. 

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