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