The posthuman performativity of the Canadian Rockies


A new publication, in Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies.

Intimacies of Rock

Ethnographic Considerations of Posthuman Performativity in Canada’s Rocky Mountains

Here’s the Abstract:

This essay engages feminist science studies and theories of performativity to inject with dynamism familiar figurations of static being. Through the modalities of ethnographic writing, memory, and embodied experience, I enact a lively engagement with Canada’s Rocky Mountains. By shifting the way we understand this unique, constitutive feature of the Canadian West, I suggest an approach to ethics that expands categories of agency, disaggregating it from realms of human exceptionalism. Through the analytic of performativity, I attend to the dynamic and agentive capacity/ies of glacial bodies, mountains, and lichen—nonhuman bodies considered passive and inert by prevailing epistemologies—to make/materialize meaning. I animate the argument that what we call nature is not a passive, immutable surface on which culture is inscribed, but rather is the production of active, agential practices, each containing divergent wills to power immanent with the capacity to make cuts of their own. The aim of this writing is to think through how mountains, and other such complex living systems, might pose a necessary series of questions to prevailing epistemologies and systems of epistemological capture.

I’m particularly interested in the part about the dynamic and agentive capacities of glacial bodies, mountains, and lichen, and the description of them as nonhuman bodies considered passive and inert by prevailing epistemologies. I’m deeply curious about the non-prevailing (the marginalized, the minority, the Other) epistemologies that consider rocks and mountains active agents. I’m very curious about what kind of will to power a mountain can have. I also wonder how feminism comes into it.

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