Exploring Interspecies Temporality (with Tarsh Bates)
In the context of the global honeybee crisis, there is perception that we are running out of time. The race is on to save the bees and ourselves. Albert Einstein is rumoured to have claimed that “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man [sic] would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more man [sic].” This presentation describes an artistic research project by Tarsh Bates and Sue Hauri-Downing that explores ideas of multispecies agency in the space/time entanglements between humans and the European honey bee Apis mellifera. This ongoing project traverses the globe, investigating historical and material bee/human naturecultures in Australia and Switzerland, combining sculpture, performance, evolutionary biology and ethnography to understand interspecies agency, ecology and place. The 'busy bee' has long been considered by humans to be a metaphor of industry and efficiency. Strangely however humans in contemporary technologically rich societies seem to be increasingly time poor. Industrialization does not seem to have made us more efficient. In fact this project has shown that having to engage, research and perform at the pace of the 'busy bee' forces us to slow down; to shift into bee time. This paper explores the challenges and complications of our attempts to shift into bee time, to understand (and fail to understand) the material affects of interspecies space/time.
Susan Hauri-Downing is an Australian artist living in Switzerland. She is interested in Biocultural diversity, Biopolitics, Solastalgia and the Intricacy of interspecies relationships. Her work includes explorations of the personal and cultural implications of the global cultivation of native and foreign plant species, including aesthetics; ties to ‘home’; food security; traditional food availability; materials for artifacts; and medicines.
Living and Dying with the Virus: Necessary Interruptions and Possible Futures.
Viruses in the past, present and future emphasise the ecological embeddedness and entanglement of the human in more-than-human worlds. In my work I use a queer ecological approach that builds on feminist technoscience, ecofeminism, ecological and environmental studies, and queer temporalities. Ecological thinking depends upon complex conceptions of time: vertical generational time and horizontal relational time intersect and are entangled up in multispecies living-with and becoming-with. In fact, living and becoming depend upon these knots of multispecies time in order to flourish. There can be, however, an uninterrogated binary opposition here between life and death, life and non-life, and living and dying. There is also the danger of overemphasising becoming, flourishing and living – which perhaps comes at the expense of unbecoming, failing and dying. With this in mind I will be exploring the virus, both as a material agent and as a figure. I will argue that the virus is interruptive. Viruses interrupt at a cellular level as well as in genomic and evolutionary narratives; interrupt dichotomous understandings of life and death; interrupt health and the ability to live well; and interrupt horizontal generational inheritance and community formation. Thinking through multispecies community and responsibility with the virus involves an alternative relation to time as well as to becoming and unbecoming, flourishing and failing, living and dying. Specifically, the virus illustrates the importance, necessity, but also danger of interrupting temporalities. Thinking with the virus from a queer ecological perspective suggests the necessity of interrupting certain narratives of health, identity and community, as well as demanding that we attempt to imagine and bring about futures with and without the virus. Both living and dying are at stake in our entanglement in more-than-human worlds.
David Andrew Griffiths is a PhD student, currently putting the finishing touches to a multidisciplinary research project within the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University and the Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (a research group based at Cardiff and Lancaster University funded as part of the ESRC Genomics Network). The project focuses on the relation between the biological and the social, using resources from feminism, queer theory and evolutionary science. His research interests include gender and sexuality studies; evolutionary science, including non-Darwinian theories of evolution; quantum mechanics and diffraction as a theoretical approach; companion species, symbiogenesis and sociality; and living with parasites and viruses.
keywords: queer, feminism, biology, evolution, science studies, animal studies
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013