19 Feb: Imperial Terroir: Toward A Queer Molecular Ecology of Colonial Masculinities


Wed 19 February 2020, 4:00 – 5:30pm
Deakin Downtown, Tower 2, Level 12, 727 Collins St, Melbourne

Register here (free)


Male violence is fundamental to the formation and ongoing existence of settler colonial states. In accounting for histories of settler colonialism, evolutionary approaches have often been used to locate the origins of this violence in biology and rationalize the social orders of the colony as inevitable outcomes of nature. Given this history, queer and Indigenous critiques of settler governance are essential in order to track the ways that racist heteropatriarchal regimes of power emerge through colonial masculinities, not as inevitable consequences of biology, but as historically-contingent processes. In questioning the origins of colonial violence, however, it is important that such critiques not entirely abandon questions of nature, but reframe them by offering creative accounts of bodies and reckoning with the ways colonial masculinity makes itself felt across human and more-than-human ecologies. Here, I argue that colonial masculinities are recent historical inventions that took shape over the last five centuries as creations of colonialism. Given these historical contingencies, I work to shift questions of nature from maleness itself to the naturecultures that colonial masculinities bring into being, tracing some of the emerging molecular ecologies of the colony.

Rick W. A. Smith, Ph.D. is a biocultural anthropologist working as a postdoctoral fellow in the William H. Neukom Institute for Computational Science and the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. Smith is also affiliated with the Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Lab in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Merging genomic techniques with critiques of power from queer, feminist, and Indigenous STS, Smith’s work traces the ways in which imperialism is felt across the human and more-than-human molecular ecologies of the Americas.

This public lecture is supported by the Deakin Science and Society Network.