[-empyre-] Introducing Special Guest Joan Haran -- On Cyborgs and Goddesses: the work of Haraway and Starhawk

margaretha haughwout margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Tue Nov 12 03:07:49 AEDT 2019

Dear Joan, WhiteFeather, Oliver, Marisa, and all,

Firstly, I love the idea of a Ruderal Witchcraft manifesto!! This is a
must. I will contact you all backchannel to discuss process, but if there
are other lurkers who would like to participate in drafting this, please
let me know.

The questions of violence and temporality are important and hard. I am
finding myself thinking about the value of slowing down, and how the
process of of being engaged with the temporalities of other species often
slows things downs, or creates new temporalities for relation, especially
if we are doing shadow work. Perhaps one way of understanding the
relationship between human time and the ruderal would be to understand that
avoiding shadow work inevitably leads to sped up temporalities and an
inability to be in the present -- aka never dealing with the catastrophe.
Elaine Gan's work here is incredibly useful also, where she looks hard and
military industrial agriculture, for example, to understand the temporal
shifts as a result of superweeds and resistant viral strains in rice. In a
modernity that is so oriented toward the future, and specifically speeding
toward a redemptive future, there is tremendous meaning in the shadow work
inherent in the ruderal -- it may actually change the nature of time for us
and for our kin.

Bioremediation is a deeply connected thread that you lure out, Joan. Oliver
and I have had some pretty drawn out conversation about what this term
means. I hope he will pipe in here. In our conversations, we want to
counter the idea that bioremediation will return us to some kind of
pristine state, and we have wondered if the poison in these weedy spaces
aren't a kind of cure for capitalism... The process of taking up poisons
into another plant is a complicated position; in permaculture practice we
are  reminded that it is often better to sequester toxins deeper in the
soil, using companion plantings and ph to ensure they don't get taken up.
Or, to understand toxin and waste as unused, not understood nutrient....
Oliver also talks about the work in his Buddhist practice of taking up
suffering, and what that could look like in terms of negotiating toxins,
radiation, waste. When I think of this on a global scale, it is hard not to
invoke Margaret Atwoods image of unpaid laboring poor in big superfund
sites cleaning up toxic sludge. I'm also hoping Oliver will pipe in about
time and radiation.

I do think we need to regard the position of the witch, the many kinds of
ruins, the ruderal as spaces of danger -- not to avoid, but to enter into
with care, deep listening, and situated knowledges -- otherwise they become
new spaces to colonize... This is a major danger as I see it in taking too
complete of a systems view on nature -- late capitalism is the new
cybernetics, and has/ will have no problem turning waste into nutrient
(think Atwood, think Soylent Green) Unless we recognize the temporalities
of these spaces, the grief inherent in them, the deep grappling with the
catastrophe that they require, we are lost. In this way, the ruderal --
it's unpredictability and it's weediness becomes a site of resistance
against capitalist cybernetics too....

So much more to say, but that will have to do for now. I hope this thread
will continue as we enter into what is sure to be a fascinating week 2
(introduction to week 2 coming later today).



On Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 5:52 PM <joanharan at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> WhiteFeather,
> Thank you so much for the response.
> I'm struck that you mention being confronted by your own naivete as that
> seems to be my repeated experience with my current research project in
> which
> I keep discovering I've asked the wrong questions. In many ways I'm
> welcoming that and horrified by the lack of humility I had as a younger
> scholar but it's a challenge to negotiate within the logics of a soft money
> career.
> I'm curious about the politics and the pragmatics of bioremediation.
> Bioremediation was one of the fascinating topics covered in the
> Permaculture
> Design Certificate curriculum that is core to Starhawk's Earth Activist
> Training - which I participated in as part of my research - and I found the
> possibilities that I learnt about marvellous, but I know that if I were to
> experiment with my own local patch of soil I would want to avail myself of
> officially sanctioned 'scientific' testing to benchmark my experimentation.
> And what would the ethics of that be? How/Could I trust the black boxing of
> soil testing technologies and what economies might I be implicated in in
> doing so? Not to mention the suspension of such concerns in order to
> navigate daily life.
> Thanks for sharing the Mi'kmaq curator/ethnologist's strong words: your
> question about whether slow violence asks specifically for slow recovery
> was
> the one that I thought was worth grappling with - cf adrienne maree on
> urgency thinking - and your account of the backfiring of the 'capping' of
> the tailings sites does suggest that it is a question that it would be
> foolish to avoid. But I guess that slow recovery might seem like neglect to
> some of those suffering the effects of the slow violence.
> The concept of "two-eyed seeing" that you describe seems to address head on
> what seems to be a key challenge / resource and I'm thinking now of my
> friend Grace Dillon who has done a lot of work on curating indigenous
> futurisms as another strand of this work.
> The Learning from the Grassroots workshop I participated in yesterday was
> heartening - in a similar way to my participation in Earth Activist
> Training
> - as it was an opportunity to meet people who are already using or are open
> to using 'imaginary hindsight/ foresight, for what Marisa described as the
> possibility "to develop / expand a means of re-valuation that can be tied
> to
> beings-with or of the ruderal? that which may not regard accumulation /
> ownership, and instead focus on a care of multispecies others?"' There are
> lots of unevennesses / frictions in the meetings but it feels like the
> staying with the trouble that many social movements and scholars have done
> is being taken up in interesting intergenerational encounters.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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