Intersectional Ecologies: Spatial Practices, Pedagogies, Imaginations

The “Intersectional Ecologies” working group aims to investigate the intersections between race, gender, and alternative ecological futures. Positioned at the crossroad between academic research and spatial practice, the group studies the role of Western technical rationality in producing and maintaining racist, heteropatriarchal, and ecocidal forms of oppression. Within “sustainable” development, narratives of “resilience,” and growth paradigms, practices of hygienism, eco-modernism, and green neocolonialism have offered technological fixes to environmental destruction while funneling capital accumulation.

We challenge these approaches through the lens of critical race theory, Indigenous perspectives, radical and political-ecological feminism, queer ecological critique, and epistemologies from the South that foster relational and non-extractive ways of being in the world. We are interested in learning from place-based forms of resistance to neoliberal logic that include Indigenous claims to ancestral lands, queer collectives building rural communities, urban anarchist enclaves, and Black, feminist, and disability activists.

By studying these practices, we take the difficulty of radical representation in academia seriously: we expose the enabling conditions for our discussions in a first-class university and encourage alternative learning structures. Our intellectual foundation includes collective discussions and open-access publications to investigate alternative ecological futures in a way that refuses to silence race and gender.

The Intersectional Ecologies working group is supported with grants from the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Center for Race and Gender, the Draper Architectural History Research Fund and the Arcus Chair of Gender, Sexuality & the Built Environment at the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley.

Intersectional Ecologies Events

4-22-2022 _IE Workshop

The Extractive Zone with Macarena Gomez Barris

04.22.2022 | 10:00 - 11:30 AM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

The Extractive Zone with Macarena Gomez Barris (Professor and Dean in Liberal Arts and Science at the Pratt Institute)

In her book The Extractive ZoneMacarena Gómez-Barris traces the political, aesthetic, and performative practices that emerge in opposition to the ruinous effects of extractive capital. The work of Indigenous activists, intellectuals, and artists in spaces Gómez-Barris labels extractive zones—majority indigenous regions in South America noted for their biodiversity and long history of exploitative natural resource extraction—resist and refuse the terms of racial capital and the continued legacies of colonialism. Extending decolonial theory with race, sexuality, and critical Indigenous studies, Gómez-Barris develops new vocabularies for alternative forms of social and political life. She shows how from Colombia to southern Chile artists like filmmaker Huichaqueo Perez and visual artist Carolina Caycedo formulate decolonial aesthetics. She also examines the decolonizing politics of a Bolivian anarcho-feminist collective and a coalition in eastern Ecuador that protects the region from oil drilling. In so doing, Gómez-Barris reveals the continued presence of colonial logics and locates emergent modes of living beyond the boundaries of destructive extractive capital. Published by Duke University Press.

3-18-2022 IE Event

Graduate Student Workshop & Open Forum with Guest Critics

03.18.2021 | 9:55 - 1:00 PM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

with Susan Stryker (Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women’s Leadership at Mills College), and Kathryn Yusoff (Professor of Inhuman Geography at Queen Mary University of London)

This workshop will be live-streamed and features a 45-min open forum for the audience to participate after the students’ presentations and comments.

9:55 -10:55 AM | Part 1: Race and Gender in Brazil
Patricia Gomes, Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies, 
"If the sea had balconies: A search for diasporic histories in alternative archives, embodied practice, and water" 

Giuseppina Forte, Ph.D. candidate in Architecture, 
"Racialized and Gendered Ecologies of Risk in São Paulo" 
Critics’ comments 

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM  | Part 2: Gender and Climate Catastrophe
Chandra M. Laborde, Ph.D. student in Architecture,
  "Spiritual Environmentalism in Druid Heights: Between Preservation and Composting" 

Julie Gorecki, Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. 
"The Racial Capitalist Climate Patriarchy" 
Critics’ comments 

12:15 -1:00 PM  | Part 3: Open forum with guest critics 

Susan Stryker is Professor Emerita of Gender and Women’s Studies. Since retiring from UofA, she has been Presidential Fellow and Visiting Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University (2019-2020) Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women’s Leadership, Mills College (2020-2022), and Stanford University Humanities Center External Faculty Fellow (2022-23).  She continues to serve as executive editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and as co-editor of the Duke University Press book series ASTERISK: gender, trans-, and all that comes after. She is the author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution (2008, 2017), co-editor of the two-volume Transgender Studies Reader (2006, 2013) and The Transgender Studies Reader Remix (2022), as well as  co-director of the Emmy-winning documentary film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005). She is currently working to complete her book manuscript, Changing Gender (under contract to Farrar Straus Giroux), and developing a variety of film and television projects. 

Kathryn Yusoff is a Professor of Inhuman Geography at Queen Mary University of London. She works on questions of subjectivity and materiality in the context of a dynamic earth. Her book entitled "A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None" (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) addresses the raciality of matter in the geologic grammars of the Anthropocene. She has just finishing another book on “Geologic Life: Inhuman Intimacies & the Geophysics of Race” about the white geology, the politics of inhuman life and the historical geologies of race. Currently, she is starting a new project on metals and value. 

Spring 2022 Intersectional Ecologies Workshop

Institutional And Organizational Practices Beyond Land Acknowledgements with Wayne Yang and Theresa Stewart-Ambo

03.11.2022 | 10:00 - 11:30 AM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

with Wayne Yang (Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego) and Theresa Stewart-Ambo  (Tongva/Luiseño) (Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Studies at UC San Diego)

Land acknowledgments are a growing and evolving social justice, and decolonial practice in the U.S. Often recited at the beginning of an event to acknowledge the original caretakers of a region, these gestures can be seen as performative and empty. This conversation will discuss how organizations can move beyond rote gestures that only acknowledge Indigenous Peoples and their homelands to offer tangible recommendations of materializing relationships and resources that upend settler colonial structures and fortify Native nation-building such as land tax, land back, and land rematriation practices. 

Spring 2022 Intersectional Ecologies Workshop

Lesbian Genius Loci at the Fin-de-Siècle with Kate Thomas

02.25.2022 | 10:00 - 11:30 AM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

with Kate Thomas (K. Laurence Stapleton Professor of Literatures in English at Bryn Mawr College)

In Roman mythology, a “genius loci was the protective spirit of a place, a concept that landscape architects have long been exhorted to revere; in 1731 Alexander Pope, urged all those who build and plant to“Consult the Genius of the Place.” This genius is both the special qualities of a landscape that must be respected, and also a mystical guardian of a natural world that needs to be defended, with ferocity and tenderness.  At the fin-de-siècle, communities of lesbian artists, writers and gardeners understood themselves as best suited to be those defenders. The writer and art historian Vernon Lee wrote an entire study of Genius Loci (1899)opening it with a line that asserts a lesbian passion for place and landscape: “To certain among us [. . .] localities [. . .] become objects of intense and most intimate feeling [. . .] they can touch us like living creatures.”  Lee wrote these lines from her home in one of the Tuscan hillside towns overlooking Florence, a place that had become something of a destination and commune for Anglo-American lesbians who sought to preserve and reanimate the mythic and erotic spirits they sensed there.  In this paper, I will reconstruct their understandings of place and landscape, of ruin and replanting, as they relate to contemporary queer theorizations of orientation and ecology. 

Spring 2022 Intersectional Ecologies Workshop

‘all depends on all’: Re-examining Ecologies of Enclosure with M.A. Miller

02.18.2022 | 10:00 - 11:30 AM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

with M.A. Miller (Assistant Adjunct Professor in English at Mills College)

The 1801 Inclosure Act formally legalized English Parliament’s abolishment of the commons and the juridical transition to private property. This talk re-examines ecologies of enclosure that preceded this act which arbitrarily rendered “land” into bounded plots and asks: how was an ecology of containment enforced before this legal decision? This talk suggests it was enforced through segmenting, quantifying, and measuring components of the biosphere as a means of expanding the efficiency and profitability of the plantation economy. The talk will be made up of two interludes: air and soil. “Air” will focus on the spatialization of air with the discovery of photosynthesis in 1772 by Joseph Priestley and its subsequent use in defining what constitutes sufficient breathing “room” for enslaved Africans in the ship’s hold. “Soil” will focus on James Grainger’s poem, The Sugar Cane (1764) which indexes the cultivation of sugar cane in the West Indies island of St. Kitts. This interlude will analyze the plantation’s fragile fantasy of containment by addressing Grainger’s conflation of the enslaved African’s body with the sugar cane monocrop as well as the tax laws used to restrict and constrict their movements as a means of “enclosing” the plantation. Ultimately, the talk hopes to offer a couple of points of origin to contemporary issues of environmental racism, drawing parallels to Eric Garner’s 11 times repeated “I can’t breathe” as well as the racialized distribution of food deserts, including that of the West Oakland community.