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Two projects in transgender studies - Eliza Steinbock and Cleo Woelfle-Erskine

Joint event organized by the research node "Science, validation, partial perspectives. Knowledge production beyond the norms." and The Queer Seminar at Uppsala University

Eliza Steinbock: "Trans*Media Ecologies: Stigma and Redressive Portraiture in the Mediascape."

Cleo Woelfle-Erskine: "Queer x Trans x Feminist x Ecology: Toward a Field Science Practice."


The seminar is in English. Afterwards, everyone is invited to stay around for drinks and snacks.


Eliza Steinbock: "Trans*Media Ecologies: Stigma and Redressive Portraiture in the Mediascape." In this talk, I will introduce my current research "Vital Art: Transgender Portraiture and Visual Activism" that studies how trans cultural producers and media makers have harnessed stigma to be a transformative social and political force. In the locales of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Toronto, and Berlin I've spoken with more than ten image-producers who work often over a long duration with participants to craft portraits that break with encrusted cliches. Of particular interest is the way in which these images circulate (pollinate?) and affect (re-)viewings of other trans images from the past and into the present, hence potentially producing a change in the local/global media ecologies, or at least a new perspective within mediascapes.

Eliza Steinbock is an Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Researcher at Leiden University’s Centre for the Arts in Society in The Netherlands. Eliza’s current project “Vital Art: Transgender Portraiture as Visual Activism” examines the worlds created in the visual arts to harbor at risk trans subjects and to critique their discrimination (funded by the Dutch Scientific Organization for Research). Recent publications on trans* cultural production, porn/sexualities and contemporary mediascapes include essays in the Journal of Homosexuality, Photography and Culture, and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly with forthcoming essays in Spectator, Feminist Media Studies and in their co-edited special issue of Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities on “Tranimacies: Intimate Links between Animal and Trans* Studies” 22.2 (forthcoming in June 2017) with Marianna Szczygielska and Anthony Wagner. Please visit www.elizasteinbock.com for more information.

Cleo Woelfle-Erskine: "Queer x Trans x Feminist x Ecology: Toward a Field Science Practice." Ecologist are on the front line of the sixth mass extinction, as intimates die at alarming rates. What radical politics and transformative potentials can arise from witnessing these transgressive intimacies, even or especially among more-than-human others dying because of human (in)action? I search for signs of resistant ‘world making’ (Munoz) in ephemeral moments where scientist were able to speak their grief at extinction and love for their study species, through three cases: (1) scientists’ field photos and captions circulated during a twitter #cuteoff, (2) my own encounters with dead salmon during ecological field studies, and (3) “Tell A Salmon Your Troubles,” an interactive performance in which scientist confessed their troubles about data, habitat loss, and extinction to a silent yet responsive salmon character. I explore resonance between queer and trans theory and indigenous theory that foregrounds multispecies ethics and relational practices, and consider how field ecologist can challenge settler ontologies and epistemologies embedded in scientific and environmental management practices.

Cleo Woelfle-Erskine is an ecologist, hydrologist, writer, and scholar of water. He works to transform cultures of water use grounded in waste, ignorance, and apathy into new water cultures rooted in renewed connections to local water sources and cycles. He is currently a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working with Karen Barad to explore queer, transgender, and decolonial possibilities for ecological science. In July 2017, he will join the faculty of the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle as the assistant professor of equity and environmental justice. His academic writing has appeared in Transgender Studies Quarterly, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, ACME: an e-journal of Critical Geographies, and Local Environment and is forthcoming in Ecosphere, Water, Catalyst, and Water Resources Research. His books include Creating Rain Gardens (Timber Press, 2012) and Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground (Soft Skull Press, 2007).