Monthly Archives: November 2011

Yesterday’s post has spread like wildfire; thanks for the comments, reposts, tweets, and all the goodness.  #OccupyStudentDebt is close to my heart, even, and perhaps especially, if disagreement about the ‘appropriate’ action continues.  More to come on this topic as the movement and the pledge unfold.

I’m taking tonight off to do some much needed resting and reflection.  Back tomorrow with fresh processing of Stefan Kipfer on Henri Lefebvre and Antonio Gramsci and Erik Swyngedouw on the ‘postpolitical city’ via Jacques Rancière.  Both were subjects of heavy discussion in my “Matters of Nature” course today; I’ve got to let that settle before I try to convey why I think they are a powerful pair to support a full-throated attempt to analyze and speculate on some aspects of the #occupy movement related to spatiality, hegemony, and the ‘properly political’.  Here’s a taste from each.

From Kipfer’s (2008) “How Lefebvre urbanized Gramsci”:

The differential claims of 1968 and its aftermath…now live on in the culturalized neo-racisms and commodified centralities of metropolitan life.  More explicitly than during Fordism, the minimal differences of the current postmodern ‘era of difference’ are central for hegemonic projects in a neo-imperial world that is otherwise characterized by a shift from consent to coercion (unilateralism, militarism, repression, exclusion). Tackling both consensual and coercive aspects of neo-imperial capitalism requires a protracted, dialectical urban strategy to link spectacular protests or promising subterranean practices with each other.  Otherwise, radical spaces of experimentation risk being confined to the acutely segmented experiences that mediate the rapidly urbanizing world order today (207).

From Swyngedouw’s (2009) “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production”:

The political arises when the given order of things is questioned; when those whose voice is only recognized as noise by the police order claim the right to speak, acquire speech.  As such, it disrupts the order of being, exposes he constituent antagonisms and voids that constitute the police order and tests the principle of equality. The proper democratic political sequence, therefore, is not one that seeks justice and equality through governmental procedures on the basis of sociologically defined injustice, but rather starts from the paradigmatic condition of equality or égaliberté, one that is ‘wronged’ by the police order.  Such procedure brings into being a new symbolic ordering, one that transgresses the limitations of police symbolization…Democratic politics is, therefore, always disruptive and transformative (607).


Tonight, I think it’s worth checking out Jan Clausen’s blog, which documents her fantastic project of reading poetry – daily, yes, every day – at Liberty Plaza.  She is a poet, author, activist, community organizer, and extraordinary person; we used to organize together in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn.  I had the privilege to read and to #occupy with her when I was in New York in November.  I hope to meet her again when I return in February for the Association of American Geographer’s (AAG) conference.

’till tomorrow.


Kipfer, Stefan. 2008. “How Lefebvre urbanized Gramsci” in Space, Difference, Everyday Life: Reading Henri Lefebvre. Edited by Kanishka Goonwarenda, Stefan Kipfer, Richard Milgrom, and Christian Schmid. Pp. 193-211. New York City: Routledge.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 2009. “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 33(3):601-620.

Today I signed the pledge to refuse student debt repayments i.e. to participate in a debt strike.  I have been very hesitant to sign onto this new campaign, which calls for a mass withholding of payments when 1,000,000 people have signed.  It also calls for mass expressions of support from faculty and non-debtors.  There are existing campaigns, such as the campaign to forgive student loan debt, which deal with many of the same issues in less radical terms.  I still support the latter movements, but I also see the discourse promoted by the debt strike campaign as vital to moving beyond President Obama’s inadequate action toward a more radical agenda against long term debt slavery and austerity.

So why did I sign the pledge and why might you sign it?

1.  It focuses on the existing crisis: $1 trillion in student loans with a default rate approaching 9% (or higher).  As the pledge itself points out, whether or not the 1,000,000 potential signatories default, there are millions of students already in or approaching default.  This is not dissimilar from the lead-up to the mortgage crisis when millions of homeowners were already underwater on their mortgages despite the fact that the ‘official crisis’ only started when the banks became insolvent or nearly insolvent in 2008.  Collective action now will combat pressure from banks to direct bailout funds to their coffers.  (In fact, they already owe $1.5 trillion, why don’t they just bail us out?)

2.  Even if the pledge does not reach 1,000,000 signatories, it creates a political space for organizing which combats the isolation, shame, and embarrassment that is often associated with being a student loan debtor.  We live in a society that individualizes problems that must be addressed through collective action.  This is a strategy which is meant to silence us and it must be resisted.

3.  We have nothing to lose by signing the pledge and everything to gain.  Signing the pledge encourages cooperation, expansion of support, and knowledge of options and alternatives.  Additionally, it helps me to confront the reality that, whether or not I sign, there is a strong chance that I will be at risk of default at some point in my life.  Debt capitalizes and creates profit from the risks we cannot avoid in our lives.  I might get in a debilitating accident.  I might lose my job.  And even if I avoid those tragedies, death is default on some private loans.  That’s right.  I die, I’m in default.  Guaranteed.  Rather than confront these injustices alone – or not at all – I want to work with a group of similarly impacted people to fight for radical solutions NOW.  I also want to work to help those who have already defaulted.

4.  Like the broader #OWS movement, the #OccupyStudentDebt movement is not a singular solution (there is no “one demand”), it is part of a radical struggle against widespread injustice in a particular form.  It articulates our struggle with the struggle of people facing austerity at the hands of ‘their’ governments.  It is not the ‘laziness’ of the Greek worker or the ‘complacency’ of the Italian student which is to blame for the crisis.  Debt is a strategy for accumulation by the rich, whether that debt is ‘sovereign‘ or ‘student’.  Debt embodies the desperation of the banker to make a profit; our education must not suffer their desperation.

We must reject the notion that profit should be individual and that loss, suffering, and pain should be collective.  We deserve better and we must fight for better.  Yes, we need the efforts of more ‘moderate’ organizations and efforts to continue.  This is not an either/or moment, it is both/and.

Me and db protesting the bailout in 2008; the photo later appeared in Rolling Stone along with a Paul Krugman article

Our generation was not only encouraged into college in pursuit of ‘higher incomes’ and ‘better jobs’ (or fulfilling our “dream school” aspirations; talk about phantasmatic fetishism of commodities!) we were also handed debt financing, effectively subsidizing over-inflated tuition rates.  (Sometimes this financing was a result of collusion between universities and banks.)  Student loans, increasingly private, were handed out at wildly inflated rates based not only – and perhaps not at all – on our speculative ability to repay or get jobs, but also based on the reality that protections for student loans had been stripped from bankruptcy laws, giving lenders unprecedented power to enforce collections conditions amounting to indentured servitude.

Like many, if I refuse to pay my debts I will be putting my credit and my ‘financial future’ at risk.  The point of signing this pledge is not to be dominated by that fear, not to be silenced by that fear, not to financialize my future.  The point is to shift my consciousness and to envision the world differently.  Some have already been driven to suicide because of debtRefuse this grave injustice.  Default may be ‘foolhardy’, but it is also a truly radical form of financial self-immolation.  Some have no choice.  For those who do, I hope it does not come to that.  I sign the pledge knowing that I must do everything in my power to ensure it doesn’t need to without sacrificing the one form of resistance I may actually have left.


My letter to the Occupy Student Debt Campaign and Andrew Ross.

I am the first person in my family to earn a college degree.  I graduated from NYU with a BA Metropolitan Studies (summa cum laude) in January 2008.  In September 2008, I sat outside the stock exchange with a sign that read “A 4.0 GPA, $90,000 in debt, and no job.  Where’s my bailout?” (see attached).  My debt now stands at $99,000.  I signed the pledge today after much reflection.  I still have my hesitations, but I am ready to fight for this cause.

The vast majority of my $99,000 student debt – both public and private – was incurred during only two years at NYU.  I came to NYU as a transfer student, having left George Washington University (at the time the two universities were among the most expensive in the US) after two years of study.  I initially accepted a disastrously low amount of non-loan financial aid – $2,000 in scholarship – on the premise (promise?) that I might be granted more in future years.  That did eventually happen, but only after I fought day and night with ever higher levels of university administration, many of whom told me that I made a mistake coming to NYU and that I should follow the (inherently unsustainable) path of withdrawing from school, getting a job, and saving money before returning.  I was working at least 20 hours per week to support myself at that time.  Even after fighting for thousands of dollars in additional support, I was already deep in debt.

I’ve never paid for school since; I simply cannot afford to.  I’ve worked harder and made difficult decisions, eventually leaving the U.S. all together.  I recently completed a fully funded MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University (CEU, funded by none other than George Soros!  How’s that for irony?) in Budapest and I have just started a PhD in Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, where I am funded by a Trillium Scholarship, an initiative just launched by the Ontario Government to support international students. (Though it was threatened by conservatives in the Provincial election this past October, they failed to gain a majority.)

My story and my prospects for repayment are not unlike many others.  Like many of us, I am concerned about my credit and about what default would mean for my future.  (I’ve already paid in excess of $10,000 to ‘service’ my debt.  I never missed a payment.  Now I’m in deferment and interest is accruing rapidly.)  But I am far more concerned that the global real estate development corporation which granted my BA will continue to extort working class students they have lured with ‘dream school’ marketing and the promise of a ‘better life through debt’.  I am far more concerned that public universities are following corporatist tendencies which are steamrolling higher education.  I am far more concerned that my debts will haunt my family after I die.  I am far more concerned that the best years of my life, the years when I can feed myself and clothe myself and shelter myself, are numbered by the term limits of my deferments.  A debt strike is just the beginning.

What will I do?


Ask yourself the same question.

There are no traditions, only inventions and repetitions.  So I declare today Sunday Linkage Day!  Below you will find selections from the cornucopia of things I have enjoyed on the internet this week.  It can’t be all Judith Butler and queer processing…Enjoy!


Caribou’s remix of Junior Boys “You’ll Improve Me,” easily my favorite song from their very good recent album It’s All True.

The lead track from an EP released by my longtime favorite Nicolas Jaar, here in cahoots with Dave Harrington, going by the name Darkside.  The track is “A1”

Another from Nico, this is technically the jam of two weeks ago, but it has repeated enough in the last week to warrant Sunday Linkage.

A beautiful song and video from the Irrepressibles which rounded out my Friday night.

Dispatches from the revolution(s):

This very illuminating undercover piece on Syria’s ongoing revolution.

Updates from Egypt.
Tense standoff in Cairo’s Tahrir Square
Egypt’s military ruler says crisis must end

From the academe:

Susan Buck-Morss on her career, islands in Greece, and living in communes.

Well, since I technically posted twice in one day, I took yesterday off to do some much needed cooking and dancing; a ritual to welcome the weekend a.k.a. the days when I am least likely to put on real clothes and/or leave the house.

But before the culinary pyrotechnics and the queer dancing (more on this below) last night, I had a long meeting with my advisor during which, despite my intentions to discuss the three ‘queer foundations’ texts which I have been working through (Foucault’s History of Sexuality Vols. II and III [ancient sexual ethics party!] and Bodies that Matter by Judith Butler, a text on which I will undoubtedly have further comment), we ended up speaking about my ongoing process of intellectual (and apparently geographic and personal) self-(re)invention.  This is going to require some explanation for the uninitiated.

Compared to a North American PhD program, especially a disciplinary (as opposed to trans-, inter-, or bi- disciplinary) program, the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) model may appear unorthodox.  In FES, we have no coursework requirement (well, almost no requirement) and we make up our comprehensive areas (‘comps’ which are, for FES “broad yet focused” inquiries into certain literatures, theories, theorists, methods, and so on) in negotiation with our committee rather than through a ‘canonical imposition’.  This results in something like a hybrid between the American system, where comps are a more uniform process and coursework is generally required, and the UK system, where there are neither comps nor coursework, unless you insist upon it or are in a 1+3 program, technically a separate MA and PhD.  In FES, what all this adds up to is a process spanning the first two terms in which we put together the program plan, essentially a proposal outlining three (or sometimes two) comps which will be the foundation for our dissertation research.  This arrangement has an array of benefits and challenges, many of which are the subject of passionate and ongoing discussion in the Faculty.  The chief benefit is that we have the freedom and the flexibility to carve out areas which reflect interests and aspirations that may not fit into more traditional programs.  The main drawback is that this process requires an incredible amount of self-organization and a very committed committee which is willing to work patiently and methodically with students (like myself) who may have a very broad range of interests that are sometimes difficult to fashion into a cohesive comprehensive.  Of course, there are also students who come into the program with a very clear idea of what they want; these students may make best use of the system from the beginning.  In the end, we’re all special flowers.

As I approach the end of my first term, I have more or less stuck with the three areas that I proposed in my application – queer theory [now ‘queer theory + politics + ecologies’], sociospatial theory [now something like ‘sociospatial theory: Lefebvre and beyond’, and urban political ecologies [now ‘urban-natures’] – but I am working through the more demanding task of substantiating those areas with reading lists and guiding questions, not to mention thinking about the outcomes for each of them.  (I’ve got a lot of options, including performance!)  I’ve got a number of ‘theoretical struggles’ at the moment, each of which feels directly related to the struggles of adjustment to a new cultural milieu, namely Canada and Toronto, but also the Faculty itself and to the novel position of not having to worry about money (that much) because I’m funded through a generous scholarship (there are class dimensions to this aspect of my adjustment).  In other words, “Welcome to Canada, here’s some money, go do important intellectual work which will define your career for at least the next decade.”  As much as I have enjoyed moving around both physically and intellectually in the last few years preparing myself for precisely this moment, I realize that I don’t have the same appetite for nomadic wandering as I used to; this last move was extraordinarily emotional and so the process of engaging in both very personal readjustment and intellectual self-fashioning feels so closely intertwined as to be nearly indistinguishable.

All of this takes on an interesting spin as I learn more about queer Toronto.  Last week I attended a panel discussion at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) organized around the current exhibition of the work of Toronto’s most famous former (queer) art collective: General Idea.  The talk, called “The General Idea Behind the General Idea,” included commentaries from my new friend, the talented and sasstastic Sholem Krishtalka, and from two others.  I’ll focus here on basic shuffle of Sholem’s portion of the evening; it has resurfaced as I think about the problematic of self-invention.

Sholem’s thrust, if I understood correctly, was that ethos of General Idea – “form follows fiction” – was a performative necessity wrought from the relative paucity of queer artistic production in Toronto; what might be called the ‘constitutive lack’ of a queer scene in the city.  (Okay, I am about to do a full on Butler-ian reading of this moment; you are warned.  Better yet, “I pronounce you warned!”).  He connected this performative act, or what might more properly be a performative ensemble, to two other Toronto queer artists/enterprises: the the homocore zine J.D.’s, invented by G.B. Jones and Bruce LaBruce and the recently deceased artist and impresario Will Munroe (Bruce LaBruce’s tribute here).  Sholem spoke in terms that are familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of queer theory and politics, adding a mythical twist which resonates with Butler’s reading of Paris is Burning, though not cinematic and more on the lines of performance than the performative, for reasons I’ll elaborate shortly.

His articulation of a through-line from General Idea to J.D.’s to Will Munroe rests on the notion that each ‘created the myth of something and followed it with the work’ and that they ‘announced an in-between space; a queer legend to come.’  This argument bears more than an incidental similarity to Butler’s analysis.  She writes about “the simultaneous production and subjugation of subjects in a culture which appears to arrange always in and in every way for the annihilation of queers, but which nevertheless produces occasional spaces in which those annihilating norms, those killing ideas of gender and race, are mimed, reworked, resignified” (1993:84).  If we are to take Judy’s ‘occasional spaces’ and Sholem’s ‘in-between’ spaces as rough equivalents (and there are reasons this is problematic, but LaBruce’s reading of Munroe’s legacy [linked above] suggests the connection fairly explicitly) then we must question configurations of both space and time in order to understand performative ensembles of queerness in Toronto.  I do not have the background to do that here and now.

Maybe that’s a long way of saying that I’ve been trying to figure out how to be queer here and how to get used to it.  The experience of displacement (and the imperative to replace myself in the here and now of this city and of this scene, which, if I follow Sholem in his talk, is one that demands my voluntaristic self-invention in order to be the legend that I desire.  There are problems with the voluntaristic model and there are problems with being interpellated by academia and by queer parties as ‘one who desires to be legendary.’) draws into question a queering of my own queerness on terms which seem to be dictated less by the hegemonic threat to annihilation and more on the expressive/voluntaristic impulse.

Might I be experiencing morphological shock? Needing to be at home in a city which is neither familiar nor ‘New York enough’ for me?  What might it mean to be(come a) queer in this city at this moment?  And further, if “realness” is “a standard that is used to judge any performance within the established categories” what do I make of Butler’s contention that “…what determines the effect of realness is the ability to compel belief, to produce a naturalized effect.  This effect is itself the result of an embodiment of norms, a reiteration of norms, an impersonation of a racial and class norm, a norm which is at once a figure, a figure of a body, which is no particular body, but a morphological idea that remains the standard which regulates the performance, but which no performance fully approximates” (88)?

So I’m processing, as one does.  I’m processing the trauma of displacement and the failure to replace.  But this trauma is inscribed within a particular academic space and particular temporal normativity (finish your PhD ASAP!) that demands my self-construction, ostensibly voluntaristic, but really consistently in conversation with a variety of otherwise constituted ideals.  I became queer in a city, a relationship, and a modality that is neither the here nor the now of my experience.  Intellectualization was a part of that experience, but I wouldn’t have put my intellectual engagement with that process under the signs and signifieds of ‘academia’.  I felt myself as a ‘real queer’ involved in the real process of ‘queering’, day-in, day-out.

Now my queerness has an uncannily familiar set of referents, performative and otherwise.  I don’t merely hope to enact a former version of myself which is neither responsive to the circumstances nor engaged in the labor of remaking that is so appealing to me (some call it struggle).  I’m more than a little anxious about my queerness becoming ‘too academic’ or ‘too scholarly’ because I am nesting in an academic world even as I feel my way around the unfamiliar landscape of a Canadian queerness happening elsewhere.  If the ‘scene’ in which I have been participating is always anticipating its own legend, always rendering itself as a ‘queer family’, I feel a bit like the step-child at the moment; here by law, dealing with the fact that I’m nobody’s baby.  It was easier being an outsider or a non-performer in some ways…

This all led me to a little hot dancing last night to the above track, which provides the title for this post.  The tune comes from the way talented Light Fires, headed by the stunningly glamorous Regina (aka Reggie Vermue).  As much as I am happy to have spent $3 on the recording so I can repeat this track, is much more compelling as a live performance.  (What legs on Regina; the high kicks are not to be missed!  Buy the tracks and see the show when they get back from Europe.)  The message of the song resonates so powerfully because, well, I’ve been a little bored and more than a little anxious about being bored.  It also resonates for its pretty straightforward call to radical democracy: “Demand to live a better life!  Demand to live a better life!”  Queer performatives indeed.  As Judy put it in the final chapter of Bodies that Matter: “Performativity describes this relation of being implicated in that which one opposes, this turning of power against itself to produce alternative modalities of power, to establish a kind of political contestation that is not a ‘pure’ opposition, a ‘transcendence’ of contemporary relations of power, but a difficult labor of forging a future from resources inevitably impure” (1993:184)  And here I could digress further into the Occupy movement and all else, but I’ll spare you the boredom and spare myself any further time hunched over this laptop.

I will conclude in that very notion of boredom.  As db (my co-conspirator in transatlantic intellectual legend making and radical inappropriation of straight institutions, among many other things) and I used to say when we lived in Brooklyn, “You’re boring, I’m bored!”  The tongue-in-cheek conversation-ending platitude has a very important aphoristic corollary: Only boring people get bored.  (And only real queers process their problems in a public blog post using Judith Butler.)  Having been displaced from our Brooklyn home in part by a nomadic intellectualized queerness, the problem of boredom has plagued us both in different ways.  But, as my friend Freddie Schultz told me recently, “Moving to a cool place to be cool is tired, it’s better to move to a boring place and make it cool.”  How’s that for a performative invitation.

Welcome to Toronto, now go do something interesting.


Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies that Matter: On the discursive limits of “sex”. New York: Routledge.

Today was the third installment of the nature-culture reading group I’ve been attending at the Robarts Center for Canadian Studies, coordinated by the wildly entertaining and engaging Jody Berland.  We focused on the anthology Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire co-edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands (my PhD advisor, better known now as Cate Sandilands) and Bruce Erickson, a former student of Cate’s and Assistant Professor of Geography at York.  (Previous installments of the group have been centered around the work of Rod Giblett, with whom I remain unfamiliar, and Bruno Latour, whose sweeping gestures of erasure of seemingly all previous social theory continue to irk me, despite my generally ambivalent interest in actor-network theory.)

I was happy to have a chance to engage more deeply with this volume which came out while I was in the middle of my application process for PhD.  Today was also a bit of an ‘origin moment’ as Cate relayed a story regarding the 2005 piece “Unnatural Passions? Notes Toward a Queer Ecology” which was my first point of contact with her work.  (Apparently its recent translation into Portuguese has prompted a deluge of interest from Brazilian drag queens!)   In this piece, which was an early version of what would eventually become the introduction to the anthology, she discusses the ‘double movement’ whereby “Homosexuality was simultaneously naturalized and considered ‘unnatural,’ something deviant from a primary, normative heterosexuality” (n.p., digital edition).  This move is important for an understanding of queer ecologies as it shows that not only did the regulatory practices of scientific and medicalizing logics which shaped sexuality, but so too did heteronormativity shape science, particularly (or at least significantly) ecology.  She writes, “In the first place, then, we have a situation in which sexuality was biologized into naturalized normative categories, and in which developing evolutionary and ecological thinking was influenced by a strongly heterosexist paradigm” (n.p.).  Such a process turns out to be quite impactful for both “the politics of wilderness preservation and urban greening” (n.p.).  Can you see where this is going?

For me, what is particularly remarkable and challenging about this piece is Mortimer-Sandiland’s insistence on the fact that “The linkage of homosexuality and cities…was clearly a product of ideology, but that ideology has had an enormous material impact on both queers and natural spaces” (n.p.).  This obviously raises significant questions for my project of queer(ing) urban ecologies.  What does it mean for my project to foreground the urban?  Might this be what Butler calls a ‘constitutive exclusion’ of the rural?  How might I deal with what Mortimer-Sandilands and Erickson, following Scott Herring, call ‘metronormativity’ (2010:28; see also Ch. 2 Judith Halberstam 2005)?

Firstly, it means that the urbanization of sexuality and the sexuality of urbanization must constantly be reworked to trouble the notion that it is only through the putatively ‘liberative’ spatialization of queerness that ‘community’ is formed.  (Gays as the vanguard of gentrification would suggest otherwise)  Restated: I’ve got to challenge the notion that the ‘visibility’ of queers (or, more likely of white, gay professionals) is somehow a sure sign of ‘progress’ with respect to either queer politics or environmental politics.  Since I am very interested in thinking the urban with Lefebvre, I have to consider that this also means that I must think of the aspects of urbanization as an historical mode of the production of space that may demand subjugation and continued violence against queers as a condition of its ‘success’.  The city, it appears, continues to intensify a commodification of queer identity and, relatedly, the spatial dominance of a commodified gay identity.  How might I think about queer approaches to a radically open and radically democratic process of urbanization which no longer takes for granted the affinity of the city and the queer?

Let queer urban ecologies be a moment to consider how projects of ‘urban greening’ might actually become occasions for a radical challenge to phallocentric, heteronormative, capitalistic forms of urban (public) green space.  Let it also be a call to consider, as Gordon Brent-Ingram does in the anthology, how the language and method of ecology might help to stage resistance to dominant forms of urbanization, which are broadly threatening to any forms of desire or non-reproductive erotic drive which do not match with the supposedly inherent (or at least apparently inherent to capitalism) accumulation strategies necessary to drive ‘sustainable growth’ (2010:254-282).

It’s a ramble, it’s a start.


Halberstam, Judith. 2005. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgendered Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: NYU Press.

Ingram, Gordon Brent. “Fragments, Edges, and Matricies: Re-theorizing the Formation of a So-called Gay Ghetto through Queering Landscape Ecology”.  Pp. 254-282 in Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, eds. 2010. Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Mortimer-Sandilands, Catriona and Bruce Erickson, eds. 2010. Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Well, I’m tired of thinking, “I should start a daily writing practice.”  So, here it is, just what the world needs: Another graduate student/narcissist with a blog!

Queer Urban Ecologies marks the beginning of an online presence for a project I have worked on in various ways since the phrase first occurred to me in 2006 as a student at NYU’s Program in Metropolitan Studies.  You may know that I have been interested in the intersections of the city, the natural, and the sexual/embodied since my first days in New York.  Since then I have worked on two major research projects, one focused on the queer history and ecology of New York City’s West side waterfront and one focused on the more recent invention of the High Line as an ecological icon.  The latter is work in which I am still involved and on which I will continue to write and reflect here.  The former indubitably informs my interests, but is a less active project at this moment.  The current manifestation of my academic work is as a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.  In that regard, this blog will play a vital role in my aggregation of pieces of writing, commentary, and intellectual experimentation.  I hope to use this space to engage with what I am reading and thinking about in the context of my ongoing academic work.

I also see this as a space of refraction and imagination.  I hope to use this blog not just to circulate content with pithy taglines (though this will obviously still happen) but also to engage more meaningfully with already circulating bits of knowledge, culture, media, art, and writing in the blogscape and on the intersphere.  Refraction has always been more interesting to me than reflection; despite my general desire to get away from the dominance of optico-geometric spatial and linguistic metaphors (hey Lefebvre, you’re here early!) the first step is to choose one that at least departs form the pallid genre of reflection.  I’m more interested in how things change when they pass through various media.  Queer Urban Nature is one such medium, doubtless it will be of varying density.

Finally, I hope this will be a space of engagement with the many talented people I have encountered across the world in the last several years in New York City, Budapest, the UK and elsewhere.  Where platforms like Facebook serve as a sort of passive surveillance vehicle and steroidal address book/event planning service, I hope this will be a space where we might become embroiled in more substantive and ongoing discussions of topics which interest folks working, writing, thinking, and acting in areas of urban, queer, and ecological scholarship, activism, and experimentation.

And, in the words of one unnamed supernerd with whom I used to share an office space, there you go.  Please waste your time with me as we dance together through the strange world that is Queer Urban Ecologies!

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