I’m very excited to announce that I’ll have a chapter in the forthcoming book Urban Forests, Trees and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective (2014, Earthscan/Routledge) edited by the amazing team behind the Urban Forests and Political Ecologies conference held at University of Toronto last year: L. Anders Sandberg (York U, FES), Adrina Bardekjian (York U, FES), and Sadia Butt (UofT, Forestry).
My chapter, “Queering the Urban Forest: The Ecological Ethics and Politics of Arboreal Entanglement,” travels to Detroit, New York, and Chișinău, Moldova with my favorite arboreal guide, the Tree of Heaven. A taste from my intro:
Tree of Heaven is a speculative link in a longer chain of queer and ecological theory and practice. This chapter deploys queer reading and writing of Tree of Heaven. A queer reading looks not only at how the tree reproduces but also at its dis/location, to the symbolic and material crisis of its overabundance, and to its space-making tactics. A queer writing of Tree of Heaven does not speak of success and failures in anything like absolute terms. Instead, it is a gesture of mutualist alliance with the tree. I write as a way of asking where it takes us and where we are taken if we follow it.
What kinds of spaces must we walk through to find it? Where are these spaces in the city? Who and what uses those spaces? Who and what disappears when Ailanthus disappears? The tree tells stories and reveals patterns of displacement, destruction, renewal, and dwelling. It helps us to locate concepts and practices that bring new creativity to bear in dealing with the violent displacements and volatile crises of urban capitalism. Lurking around freshly sprouting stands of A. altissima is just one way to ask how anything survives, let alone thrives, in the midst of those crises and displacements.