Underflows: Queer Trans Ecologies and River Justice
Rivers host vibrant multispecies communities in their waters and along their banks, and, according to queer-trans-feminist river scientist Cleo Wölfle Hazard (2020-2021 Society of Scholars Fellow), their future vitality requires centering the values of justice, sovereignty, and dynamism. At the intersection of river sciences, queer and trans theory, and environmental justice, Underflows (University of Washington, 2022) explores river cultures and politics at five sites of water conflict and restoration in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Incorporating work with salmon, beaver, and floodplain recovery projects, Wölfle Hazard weaves narratives about innovative field research practices with an affectively oriented queer and trans focus on love and grief for rivers and fish. Drawing on the idea of underflows—the parts of a river’s flow that can’t be seen, the underground currents that seep through soil or rise from aquifers through cracks in bedrock—Wölfle Hazard elucidates the underflows in river cultures, sciences, and politics where Native nations and marginalized communities fight to protect rivers. The result is a deeply moving account of why rivers matter for queer and trans life, offering critical insights that point to innovative ways of doing science that disrupt settler colonialism and new visions for justice in river governance.
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