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Queer Love, Gender Bending Bacteria, and Life after the Anthropocene

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Eben KirkseyEben Kirksey
© The Author(s) 2018. The timeline of the Anthropocene – a geological epoch that Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer say began in the late 18th century with the invention of the steam engine – seems like a brief and inconsequential blip, against the time scales embodied by the microbial communities. Wolbachia bacteria predate Anthropos by some 150 million years, and will likely outlast us. Wolbachia bacteria are worthy of their own geological epoch because they offer a fresh vantage point on one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time: ‘How should we love in a time of extinction?’ Narratives about the Wolbachiacene have the potential to disrupt the overwhelming stories of tragedy orbiting around Anthropos, with disquieting and generative accounts of interspecies romance. Wolbachia often perform queer tricks inside their invertebrate hosts. In some host species these bacteria induce parthenogenesis – completely eliminating males from the population. Wolbachia can also transform genetic males into reproductively viable females.

History

Journal

Theory, Culture and Society

Volume

36

Issue

6

Pagination

197 - 219

Publisher

Sage

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

0263-2764

eISSN

1460-3616

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal