Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

2-1-2017

Degree Program

Geography

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

September

Advisor Name

Eve

Advisor Last Name

Vogel

Co-advisor Name

Stuart

Co-advisor Last Name

Kauffman

Third Advisor Name

Angela

Third Advisor Last Name

Willey

Abstract

Given the state of the planet at present —specifically, the linked global ecological and economic crises that conjure dark imaginings and nihilistic actualities of increasing resource depletion, poisonings, and wide-scale sufferings and extinctions—I ask What might we hope now? What points of intervention offer possibility for transformation? At best, the response can only be partial. The approach this thesis takes initiates from specific pre-discursive assumptions. The first understands current conditions as having been produced, and continuing to be so, through practices that enact and sustain neoliberal relations. Secondly, these practices are expressive of a subjectivity tied to a Cartesian worldview, which, therefore, needs to be interrupted at its foundational roots. Thirdly, the scaffolding that supports this subjectivity draws on Newtonian science and neo-Darwinian narratives deemed to be natural law and, therefore, ontological, immutable reality. Contrary to modernist thinking, I premise that these two strains, subjectivity and science, are neither autonomous nor ontological, but that they are materially and contingently integral. Finally, this thesis presumes that different and life-affirming trajectories are, in fact, desired.

An integral framing of science and subjectivity provides a productive method of feminist science studies analysis and theorization. Observing the capitalist Western social imaginary through this lens reveals its philosophical and scientific infrastructures to be outdated and crumbling. Observing how emerging scientific narratives in quantum physics and systems-biology intersect with marginalized theories in process-philosophy and subjectivity reveals a life-affirming imaginary of difference, one that arrests nihilism and sets ethical trajectories in motion. Certain, though not all, percepts of feminist new materialism engage twentieth and twenty-first century sciences successfully to show that ethicality matters. Though many questions remain, this points auspiciously towards the possibility for a transformed politics of justice.

First Advisor

Eve Vogel

Second Advisor

Angela Willey

Third Advisor

Stuart Kauffman