Deep Time as an Archive of Feeling (Queering the Anthropocene)
Speaking of ‘public feeling,’ Ann Cvetkovich recently wrote: “I think of our bodies as this site of weight-bearing. If you think of yourself as a sensory body who is feeling the atmosphere around you when you are connecting with people in a room, sometimes you carry their heavy energy as much as you are buoyed up by their joyous energy. We are a sensitive interface with the world. We are carrying historical residues, collective residues.”
Decades before, Audre Lorde wrote that “In order to withstand the weather we had to become stone.” Neither of these queer, anti-racist feminist thinkers was knowingly intervening in debates on the Anthropocene or deep time, but I wonder how their thoughts on surviving a queer, marginalized life might bear on recent attempts to decenter the Anthropos, while enlivening non-human natures, as part of an ethical project of (to quote Yusoff) “fracking the Anthropocene.” Put otherwise, how might Audre Lorde’s observation inaugurate not a metaphorical but a material relation to stone-life—one in which all bodies are ‘sensitive interfaces,’ bearing the weight of other lives, injustices and joys? To think this human-inhuman kinship, I want to rethink the idea of deep time as a planetary “archive of feeling” (Cvetkovich) in which we can acknowledge affective transcorporeal time-travels and the residues of lives not only human but variously inhuman. In this case we need not only to read this archive for signs of past worlds, but we also need to ask about its mode of curation, and measures of literacy. What has been left out or off of these pages? What kinds of counterarchival practices, or “queer archive activism” (Cvetkovich) need to be enacted in order to seek, and perhaps find, feminist, queer, anti-racist and anti-colonial justice in deep time?
Astrida Neimanis is a feminist writer and teacher interested in water, weather, feminist alter-Anthropocenes and other such naturalcultural matters. She teaches at the University of Toronto (Canada) and is a Researcher with the Environmental Humanities Collaboratory / Posthumanities Hub of Linkoping University (Sweden). Most recent publications include Thinking with Water (with C Chen and J MacLeod, MQUP, 2013), "Weathering: Climate Change and the Thick Time of Transcorporeality" (with R Walker, Hypatia 2014), "Alongside the Right to Water, a Feminist Posthumanist Imaginary” (Journal of Human Rights and Environment, 2014), "Natural Others? On Nature, Culture and Knowledge" (Sage Handbook of Feminist Theory, 2014) and "Speculative Reproduction" (philoSOPHIA 2014). Current collaborations involve thinking with ((pollen)) (with Perdita Phillips), extremophiles (with Kathy High, Oron Catts and others) and toxic life in the Gotland Deep (with Cecilia Asberg).