A symbiological approach to sex, gender, and desire in the Anthropocene
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
The first part of this essay describes a symbiological approach to gender and sexuality; the second, a symbiological approach to world literatures and some examples of gender and sexuality in symbiological literatures. Both are intended to provide more intimate accounts of the Anthropocene than the typical big pictures of global warming and climate change. While grand and world-historical, to be sure, the Anthropocene also affects the most intimate aspects of our lives. Both sex and gender should be understood as the outcomes of developmental processes more or less stabilised by a wide variety of more or less variable factors in the loop of nature, culture, and technology. Understanding the nature of these processes and their social, biological, and technological causes is essential for comprehending the nature of gender, sex, and sexuality, and the extent to which these are mutable. The essay concludes with some reflections on love in the Anthropocene. Recent developments in molecular biology imply that classic distinctions between nature and nurture or biology and culture are not applicable to the human ecological niche. Research in epigenetics shows that the effects of culture on nature go all the way down to the gene and up to the stratosphere, and the effects of biology on culture are similarly inextricable (Gilbert; Griffiths; Meloni). Living systems almost invariably involve the interaction of many kinds of organisms with a diversity of technologies. The Anthropocene—the age of human cultures and technologies impacting on natural environments—changes rapidly, and to understand and manage its functioning requires perspectives from each domain. Symbiology is the study of such relations-in-process. The kinds of relations we study include mutualism, parasitism, domination, recognition, separation, solubility, symmetric mutuality (relations among equals in power or status), asymmetric mutuality (relations among unequals--parents/offspring, teacher/pupil, human/nonhuman animals), reciprocity, alienation, isolation, autonomy, and so forth, and these relations are discernible throughout nature and all cultures, implying a politics.1 The first part of this essay will describe a symbiological approach to gender and sexuality; the second, a symbiological approach to literature and some examples of gender and sexuality in symbiological literature. Both are intended to provide more intimate accounts of the Anthropocene than the typical big pictures of global warming and climate change. While grand and world-historical, to be sure, the Anthropocene also affects the most intimate aspects of our lives.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 22 (1), pp. 11-21