Your Shell on Acid, Stacy Alaimo

“As the “anthropocene” arises as a pivotal term in environmental discourse, it may be useful to consider how the novel category becomes enlisted in all too familiar formulations, epistemologies, and defensive maneuvers. The term generates modes of knowing and being incapable of responding to the cataclysmic complexities of the anthropocene itself. Feminism, undetectable in the solid block of the “anthro,” nonetheless offers invaluable modes of grappling with onto-epistemological and profoundly ethical matters that become us and undo us. Rather than imagining the human subject as a geological force who has left his mark on the planet, I call for industrialized humans to consider how ocean acidification dissolves the shells of sea creatures, and to contemplate our own shells on acid—liquifying the outline of the human. The toxic bodies of the anthropocene—and they are all toxic—call us to dissolve into an ethics of vulnerability, to inhabit the biophysical landscapes of risk, fluctuation, uncertainty, pleasure, and harm. This is a world where creatures, including human creatures, struggle, experiment, and negotiate the strange agencies at the crossroads of bodies and places, making sense, making do. The predominant formulation of the anthropocene as terrestrial and geological need be complemented by approaches that address the chemical, biological, and aquatic dimensions of current environmental crises. Thinking from below, from immersed, liquid locales involves posthumanisms and material feminisms.”

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