The Shadows of Telluria

Ged Ribas-Goody

LIGHT

I want to begin with these words from the transterrestrial ethnographer Genly Ai who, in many ways, has become a mentor to me: “I’ll make this report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.”1

These words—taken from the opening of their ethnographic account of the planet Gethen—ring through the thick silence of space with the piercing clarity and timelessness of a glacier. Unlike a glacier, however, they do not moan of a protracted and yet inevitable future; but rather of agency, of the agency of hope and speculation—the agency of stories.

So it is with these stories, which echo off these walls of ice, that I begin mine. This is not a story of the past, nor of the future. This is a story of gaps, and of the bridges we build across these gaps; of a squidgy Now, and of how it is becoming populated. This is a story of ice.

My observations begin in Terra Incognita—the southernmost continent on the planet Tellus—where I have been conducting my research for the past nine years. As a xenobiologist, I arrived on Tellus in my Omni seeking to study, understand and document the existence of little-understood and unknown biota—how they survive, how they communicate, learn, organise. While this continent is the only large landmass on Tellus with no indigenous Tellurian population, in recent centuries the Tellurians have reached its shores and developed sparse outposts for the study of its great mysteries and bizarre organisms. The Tellurians are—for all their technological and theological development—a ravenously dependent, if not parasitic, species. Their contemporary and historical dominance seemingly rests on the subjugation and marketisation of other species and their natural environments.

My intention had been to study the Tellurians themselves, however during my initial observations on Terra Incognita I began—inadvertently at first—to study how they relate to other species. The term extremophile—as coined by Tellurian exobiologists—refers to organisms which have adapted to survive and thrive in hostile or extreme environments. Thus, it groups together previously unrelated organisms under a common trait: being able to survive where most cannot. Much of Tellurian research on Terra Incognita seems to focus on these creatures and, over time, mine did as well—granted, for drastically different reasons.

The year of my arrival the austral summer was longer and warmer than what I came to expect as usual. The pack ice surrounding the vast, frozen continent was all that remained of that winter’s frozen sea. The continent itself consists of a huge landmass covered by the largest ice sheet on Tellus, the Great Plateau. The Plateau is divided by the dark and forbidding peaks of the Doomsday Range—the southernmost mountains on Tellus—so named because they stand at the end of the world. On the fringes of the continent the Plateau calves off into smaller, albeit still gargantuan, ice shelves and bergs. These behemoths populate the surrounding oceans and bays, mingling with the many islands and smaller ice floes that dot these dark waters. My descent to Tellus nine years ago landed me somewhere south of the range, on the Plateau where the winds are the strongest, driest and coldest on all of Tellus. Being far more physiologically and mentally adaptable and resilient than the Tellurians, I found the ice a wonderfully malleable, even comfortable, environment. By the first fortnight, in the lee of a nunatak (a peak or ridge protruding through an overlaying ice field), I had excavated an elaborate network of tunnels that connected up my modest living quarters. An extract from my field logs recounts this moment:

The icicles in this natural crevasse which is now my home stretch well over 53∆ [fourteen feet] in places. The perpetual summer sun above the snowbridge which forms the makeshift ceiling casts a faint blue glow over the perfect stillness here below. I’ve read of Tellurian cathedrals and—never having visited one in person—can only assume this must be how it feels to be in their bowels. The silence—only pierced by the yawns, shrieks and gentle moans of the great ice sheet, always moving—is thick enough to almost touch. After twelve days of burrowing I have almost finished preparing my home in this alien world of ice. The abundance of volcanic rock deposits should allow for the sufficient extraction of iron, manganese and sediments necessary to sustain myself. This morning while out walking on the Plateau the sun dipped below the mountains to the West for the first time since I arrived. The colours are like nothing I have ever seen before.2

There are few Tellurian outposts on the Plateau itself: most are situated on the fringes of the continent where the temperatures are more moderate and the environments more varied. This continent clearly marks the limit of Tellurian expansion within their own planet, and accordingly, the extremity of Tellurian survival. The few outposts I encountered indicated a predominantly scientific motivation for their presence. This is, after all, not the Tellurian’s natural habitat. The high altitude and dry, clear air up on the Plateau provide the perfect conditions for the study of the cosmos, while the proximity to the oceans on the fringes of the continent yields opportunities for the study of marine biota, foraminifera and many other bizarre extremophile organisms that inhabit its various biomes. In each instance, a tangible barrier—the atmosphere and the ice—shields the Tellurian gaze from dark, arcane depths. These two lines of movement—of expansion upwards and downwards; in towards the planet’s core and out beyond its farthest boundaries—are in many ways connected. Lacking the technology necessary to explore neighbouring exoplanets, the Tellurians have—for the time being—resorted to studying the creatures that inhabit the environments on Tellus that most closely resemble those potentially found on other worlds. Primarily, those of Terra Incognita. For Tellurian civilisation, extremophiles hold the key to survival on other planets: to the inevitability of interplanetary colonisation. In order to go beyond their own limits—and move beyond the extremities of their world—they depend on the knowledge of the extremophile. To me—and to all other forms of life classified as ‘alien’ or ‘other’ on Tellus—extremophiles hold the key to survival, and to moving beyond it.

Their lights sliced through the darkness. The organisms they were attempting to locate were both species of echinoderms of the class Holothuroidea. Since their first discovery 25 years ago, Tellurian scientists have been closely monitoring their symbiosis. Each species on its own is not photosynthetic, however in unison, through a combination of two chemicals, they are able to voluntarily induce a photosynthetic reaction. This allows them to lure unsuspecting prey, mostly krill, to their relatively sedentary mouths as they float between biomes, between worlds.
A distance behind—completely unnoticed in the inky blackness of the ocean—I followed the Tellurian scientists as they swam through the dark waters towards the cluster of lights, similar to how a cosmonaut points themselves to the stars. They found a pair of Holothurians, one red one green, floating in synchrony at the whim of the tides. Surrounding them both was a plasma-like layer of phosphorescent yellow slime. The precise chemical compounds which cause the phosphorescent reaction are still a mystery to Tellurian scientists. From my own observations the material looks similar to the mucus secreted by some species of Volcanic gastropod on my homeworld. They took a sample of the phosphorescent slime using a vial and headed back to the surface via a perfect hole—a halo of light in the darkness—cut in the ice sheet to the world above. I waited a while, collecting my own samples, and swam to my own hole 39977∆ [roughly 2 miles] away.3

While it may be difficult to imagine the presence of life on and below these pristine, icy plains, I can assure you, life abounds. It is just a matter of shifting one’s perspective on what constitutes life—of unlearning, and learning afresh. Learning, primarily, to not only accommodate difference, but to nurture it. As my time observing Tellurians and their studies on extremophiles emphasised, designations of ‘extreme’, ‘normal’, ‘alien’ or ‘native’ often correlate to the tolerances and beliefs of the hegemonic species or group. In this case, the Tellurians. What does it mean when we say an environment is extreme? Extreme for whom? An environment that one form of life finds favourable can be hostile and uninhabitable to another. From a Tellurian perspective, an organism living in the almost below-freezing waters below the ice is a lover of extremes, an alien from a strange world; but to the extremophile, their environment provides the necessary conditions for life itself, and it is the Tellurian who is the alien. Extreme is the Master’s word for different.

A Tellurian anthropologist by the name of Stefan Helmreich—critical of Tellurian classing practices—describes how the:

figure of the alien materializes [...] when uncertainty overtakes scientific confidence about how to fit newly described life forms into existing classifications or taxonomies, when the significance of these life forms for forms of life—and particularly, for secular, civic modes of governance—become difficult to determine or predict.4

Observing the dogmatic and narrow-minded ways in which the Tellurians study and classify other forms of life—utterly for their own gain and profit—prompted me to remain hidden and to carry out my investigations alone and in secret. I feared the threat of being discovered; not for who I am—or what I am capable of—but for how they would perceive me, and how my difference would ultimately be categorised as a threat.

DARKNESS

“It’s queer that daylight is not enough. We need the shadows, in order to walk.”5 Therem of Harth, Genly Ai’s ethnographic journals of planet Gethen

Stories kept me company in the darkness of winter: the journals of Genly Ai, stories from my homeworld, as well as treatise and writings by Tellurian scholars. During the austral winter, Terra Incognita—lying at the very bottom of Tellus—does not see the sun for four months. This time, I resolved, would be spent collecting samples for my bio bank—a living archive of Tellurian biomatter—as well as researching and working on my own writings and field sketches. The ice cave provided the ideal conditions for the preservation and nurturing of biomatter.

In order to collect these samples, I planned two transcontinental journeys during the winter months. I was sure I would not encounter a Tellurian expedition during winter, especially on the Plateau. Tellurian outposts on the continent were reduced to a skeleton crew during the months of darkness, and those that did remain for the most part stayed indoors.

Trekking in the darkness is proving bitter and arduous; the ice-hardened sastrugi are barely visible in the dark. Tripping and falling is inevitable. The winds howl and throw drift into me from all angles. I have been camped out on the edge of the Plateau for four nights now, waiting out this blizzard in a makeshift shelter of hewn ice blocks, padded with snow. Since I left a month ago I have collected ice core samples from various locations, several mineral samples, five new microbes and several species of Diptera—the latter found frozen in ice cores from summer months.
[Two days later] the blizzard has finally abated, and I continue my march towards the mysterious valleys beyond the Doomsday Range, the only large stretches of land on Terra Incognita completely free of snow or ice. The reasons for this are partly geomorphological—due to the position of the mountains surrounding these valleys which protect them from the southerly winds carrying drift from the centre of the continent—and partly due to the valley’s excessive dryness. The rocks here have been carved by the winds of time.
In want of ice, I set up my modest yet effective sleeping nest of woven feathers in the lee of a large boulder. For now Darkness is my ally. I think often of Genly Ai’s accounts of Gethen and their own odyssey on the ice. Their travelling partner, Therem of Harth, was wise beyond their years; the patina of trauma, most likely. Light is not enough to see by: to me, that is not strange. I can understand the extremophile who, fearing the exposure of daylight, seeks the impenetrable waters, nooks, or crevasses in order to live in the comparative freedom of Darkness. For the past few weeks, and for the foreseeable future, darkness is all I have known and all I will know. In life’s seemingly never-ending reliance on and desire for light, I always find myself returning to its opposite.
Much like the Holothurians—who in the absence of light make their own—in the absence of stories to illustrate our ideas, similarly, we imagine our own. I see now why Ai recounted their ethnographic study of Gethen as a story. Tellurian social scientist Patricia Leavy puts forward a similar, exciting idea. Advocating the use of fiction in research, Leavy points to the “frailty of the fact/fiction (nonfiction/fiction) dualism on which traditional social science rests”: similarly to Ai, they contend that “the following objectives of social research can be achieved via fiction: raising critical consciousness, accessing hard-to-get-at dimensions of social life, extending public scholarship, opening up a multiplicity of meanings, building bridges across differences, unsettling stereotypes, and developing empathy and resonance as ways of knowing.”6 In order to frame the experiences of the extremophile as a metaphor for those of every alienated creature—to expand the category of extremophile to include any and all who have been othered and, in doing so, shift the balance of subjectivity enough to be able to reframe the Extreme as normal, and the Normal as extreme—I feel I must communicate my accounts of Tellus, my discoveries and theories, via the mode of storytelling.7

The weeks and months of darkness in the warm embrace of my ice cave were filled with the voices of others. I read voraciously all that I had brought with me; their stories populated these spaces, hewn from ice. In many ways darkness gave me the gift of clarity. Left alone with my thoughts and those of my fictive companions, I questioned endlessly what it meant to be an extremophile. While my companions bound in words, were mere projections, I would return to Genly Ai’s insistence that Truth, after all, is a matter of the imagination. With every passing day I came to see myself more and more in the figure of the extremophile, and came to feel a kinship with the microbes and other organisms that shared my subglacial domain and populated my bio bank: a shared experience of life beyond the realms of a pervasive Normal. Excluded, alienated, othered, and—if luck deems us interesting enough—conserved by a hegemonic species for the study and extraction of our knowledge. We held each other in an unspoken acceptance: there was no need for language. All forms of life that experience subjugation and exclusion at the hands of a group or species that positions itself as the universal standard are extremophiles. What would it mean to inverse the dissecting gaze of a Tellurian scientist or scholar? To dismantle and understand ‘normal’ and ‘extreme’ from the perspective of an extremophile? In other words, to make space for the extremophile in processes of knowledge production. How might such a shift be able to transform the ways in which knowledge—xenobiologic or otherwise—is learned, produced and circulated?

I began to realise that extremophiles were everywhere. They populated the pages of these texts and stories, under many names, but united in their singular ability to survive in the face of considerable hostility and marginalisation. The words of one such extremophile and scholar, Audre Lorde, shone through the darkness of my winter with piercing clarity:

Those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference—those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older—know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.8

Tellurian ethics are clear in their promotion of order through a stringent adherence to bureaucratic structures: ethics begets security, security begets ethics. As the perils and imperatives of survival were brought sharply into focus during these winter months, so too were the fine—almost imperceptible at times—webs of symbiosis in which everything around me, including myself, was poised. In this cave of ice there seemed to exist a simple and archaic synergy between the microbial and the mountainous; a tangible thread—one might call it logic or fate—bridging scales worlds apart. Extremophile scholar Myra Hird describes the intrinsic entanglement of the queer and the microbial:

Bacteria trouble our familiar forms of communication, identity, sociality (community organization), reproduction, sexual reproduction, movement, metabolism, and just about everything else. But what is perhaps most disquieting (and therefore interesting) is that we remain utterly dependent on these ancestors who not only created us but also now sustain our environments.9

The term extremophile—created to facilitate the classification, and thus segregation, of otherness—inadvertently lays the foundations for kinship across traditional taxonomic boundaries. In difference I found kin; in Darkness I had found clarity.

SHADOWS

“People, perhaps, still exist who believe that it is of no importance to explore the unknown polar regions. This, of course, shows ignorance. It is hardly necessary to mention here of what scientific importance it is that these regions should be thoroughly explored. The history of the [Tellurian] race is a continual struggle from darkness towards light. It is, therefore, to no purpose to discuss the use of knowledge.”10 Fridtjof Nansen, Tellurian polar explorer

With the arrival of light came shadows. After months of darkness, the continent once again exulted in colour. Ships bringing swarms of Tellurian scientists and supplies for the new season had begun to arrive where the ice meets the sea. Camped in the pressure ridges by the sea, I had waited for the arrival of the sun and with it, that of the ships that were to transport biological specimens from Terra Incognita back to the Tellurian mainland. In order to fully understand the subjugation of the extremophile—and thus hope to transform the ethics that define and structure Tellurian institutional knowledge production—I needed to follow the extremophile as it crossed from its own environment into the unfamiliar ones of Telluria.

Tracking the journey of the extremophile across various boundaries—geophysical, biogeographic, biosecurity, institutional, geopolitical—the debilitating effects of their assimilation into Tellurian processes of knowledge production on their mobility and agency are clear to see. Ironically it is their movement across such boundaries—albeit forced—that forms the walls of their new prison: not of bricks or stone but of endless corridors with innumerable doors, of unlimited documents and the invisible strictures of a narrow-minded ethics intolerant of difference. Extremophile scholar Sara Ahmed speaks of doors: “When doors are closed to some [beings], they are also closed to our stories, which include our stories about closed doors. When a door is closed, you have to find other ways of getting information out. You might have to make use of the resources available to you in order to create new resources.”11
As I write this, sitting in the depths of the rocking ship and surrounded by crates of organisms sequestered for the mining of knowledge, I cannot help but imagine what extremophile ethics would look like. Ones that are forged in the crucibles of difference, and that—as opposed to Tellurian ethics built on a fear, and thus exclusion, of difference—nurture the bridging of gaps, the opening of doors, the creation of new resources. To move beyond: to not only survive, but thrive.12

After an eternity we arrived at port in a metropolis of stone, steel and glass:

Huge towers scraped the sky in the middle distance. The sound, even from afar, was unbelievable: a cacophony of hellish proportions. In the considerably mediocre climate and cold architectural space of my new environment—which was neither warm nor cool, sunny nor overcast, windy nor quiet—I feel a pang of loneliness and longing for the comparative warmth of my cave of ice and the silent darkness it afforded me.13

In the cold light of Telluria I sought out the shadows. Eventually I found a network of tunnels and abandoned catacombs under the city that were populated by a variety of life forms, each of whom had made themselves a space of their own: “a space,” as extremophile scholar bell hooks writes, “for learning and evolving”: in other words, to “heal many of the wounds” inflicted by an intolerant and exclusive society.14 Here in the shadows I found some respite from daylight’s incessant throbbing and its stubborn desire for disclosure: always threatening to shine a light on my difference. Solace came at twilight when colours would melt and the city’s spires were the last fragments of this world of stone and glass to be bathed in gold. Fingers clawing, reaching for Light.

The Academy is the local hub of Tellurian knowledge production. Large and pale, its great stone steps lead up to a colonnaded portico ornate with scenes of Tellurian triumph and fertility. It is an imperious, impenetrable building with many doors—all of which are closed to most—and off which spring a multitude of corridors leading to more doors, and more rooms behind those doors. How is an extremophile meant to feel in such a space? One whose survival is in direct opposition to a pervasive and exclusive Normal? To Tellurians, difference connotes extremity, and vice versa. And although extremity defines the very existence of the extremophile, it is not until they enter the domain of the Tellurian Normal—such as the Academy—that they truly come to know it. The term extremophile not only denotes difference, but implies one’s lustful devotion to it: the term implies a choice, a wilful perversion of all that is Normal.

The Tellurian research ethics born in these sterile institutional halls positions extremophile life as highly vulnerable—i.e. high risk—due to its perceived struggle to survive. In lieu of caring for and protecting extremophile life, as it purports to do, in actuality such ethics reinforce the lived vulnerability of extremophile life forms by subjecting them to a debilitating and lengthy bureaucratic process that ensures their compliance to a Tellurian standard. The image of care that the Academy projects is, in my mind, no more than a virtuous mask that allows the institution to continue to subjugate other forms of life for its own profit behind closed doors. For the extremophile, the ethics procedure signifies an unending bureaucratic process that drastically impairs its mobility. As an institution responsible for the production, teaching and circulation of Tellurian knowledge, the Academy is an indispensable tool of the Tellurian state for maintaining and reproducing itself.

This is the fifth week of my covert observations within the Academy, through which I have reached some speculations on Tellurian ethics. Upon arrival at the Academy, the extremophile is taken to a secure lab to be stored while its biosecurity documentation is assessed and cleared in accordance with the institutional ethics process: the researcher must fill out countless forms—supplementary to a set of similar documents completed ex ante facto—detailing the origin, risks, benefits, intended uses and eventual destination of the organisms in question. Upon studying said documents, which I was lucky enough to obtain for my archives, I can say with conviction that—while the Ethics Committee of the Tellurian Academy claims to have the participants’ (the extremophiles in this case) and researchers’ interests and safety in mind—they primarily serve to protect and thus benefit the institution itself, while offering little to no care or protection to the participants they deem so vulnerable. As with critiquing the extreme—and its supposed opposite, the normal—we have to ask ourselves where the real lived experiences of vulnerability are being felt, and by whom; and whom is reaping the most benefit from this classification. Institutional Tellurian ethics are built on the notion of extremophile vulnerability (or in other words, that of anything that differs from the Tellurian normal): such ethics weaponise vulnerability as a means of exaggerating difference—otherness—in the guise of altruism or care, while insinuating the Academy’s resilience and stability by comparison. This, in actuality, does two things: firstly, it reproduces and reinforces the actual lived vulnerability of the extremophile within Tellurian environments, subjecting it to a hostile and exclusionary ethics; and secondly, it points to a far more real vulnerability, veiled in the shadows: that of the institution itself. The extremophile, in its capability to survive and thrive in adverse conditions through its adaptability and trans-species symbiotic relations, poses a real threat to Tellurian hegemony: change, transformation, emancipation, pluralism, the rejection of a rampant and intolerant Normal, and the abolition of systems of injustice are all synonymous with extremophile life. The institution depends on the suppression of and marketisation of extremophile life for power, control and, ultimately, profit. The Extreme is not the Normal’s opposite, but rather its product.15

These intricate webs of subjugation became clearer to me as I waded through the quagmires of Tellurian bureaucracy, all the more certain of the importance of nurturing, strengthening and making space for an emancipatory counter-ethics: an extremophile ethics that is grounded in the plural voices of those who have been marginalised and hitherto silenced, that develops the modes of symbiotic survival practiced by extremophiles into tools of collective governance and care. One that, as extremophile scholar Jose Esteban Muñoz elucidates,

is about casting a picture of arduous modes of relationality that persist in the world despite stratifying demarcations and taxonomies of being, classifications that are bent on the siloing of particularity and on the denigrating of any expansive idea of the common.16

An extremophile ethics is one that understands that, in order to exact genuine change, we require a total abolition of the Normal in favour of difference.

Learning the art of living in the shadows I gathered resources and knowledge, shared with me by my extremophile cohabitants beneath the city. I borrowed Tellurian garments; learnt to move and walk like them, talk like them. Most importantly, I learnt to move through public space as though I belonged there: as if to walk down the street was my birthright. I learnt, in essence, how to become an extremophile in the hostile environments of Tellurian normality. Not in order to become assimilated into Tellurian society—if anything the opposite was true—but rather to cloak myself in a manner that facilitated my relatively unhindered mobility through Tellurian public space. Ahmed proposes that in order to work “within and against” institutions and spaces that were not made for us “we need to become each other’s resources”.17 I would whisper Ahmed’s words to myself almost absentmindedly as I trekked the streets between the local library and my home, avoiding the puddles of lamplight; a shibboleth to ward off any anxious thoughts as I sought Darkness’s sanctuary. It is in this darkness that extremophile scholar Susan Stryker attempts to find a hopeful ethics.

I embraced “darkness” as a condition of interstitiality and unrepresentability beyond the positive registers of light and name and reason, as a state of transformable negativity, as a groundless primordial resource. As I said then, “I feel no shame in acknowledging my egalitarian relationship with [non-Tellurian] material being. Everything emerges from the same matrix of possibilities.”18

By framing Tellurian progress, reason and order as the realm of light, the realms of darkness, they argue, are populated with extremophile life—or what they call the (in)Tellurian:

[(in)Tellurian] suggests the gravitational tug of the [Tellurian] for bodies proximate to it, as well as the [Tellurian’s] magnetic repulsions of things aligned contrary to it. It speaks to the imperiousness of a [Tellurian] standard of value that would measure all things, yet finds all things lacking and less-than in comparison to itself; at the same time, it speaks to the resistance of being enfolded into the [Tellurian’s] inclusive exclusions, to fleeing the [Tellurian’s] embrace. [(in)Tellurian] thus cuts both ways, toward remaking what [Tellurian] has meant and might yet come to be, as well as toward what should be turned away from, abandoned in the name of a better ethics.19

After my long nights of research, observation and writing I would return home to the catacombs just before dawn. Other extremophiles—those who had become my new family—and I would sit around a small primus stove at the centre of one of the open chambers. All the planets in orbit around their sun. Moths to a flame. Whoever it was whose turn it was to cook that night would bring out a tin, either of beans or soup. We ate with hungry hearts and empty stomachs. It had become tradition, such was our hunger, that no one spoke during meals until every morsel was gone. Once we had all finished eating we would tell stories. They were not stories of the past, nor of the future, but of an endless present, trapped in that shimmering plane between darkness and light: stories of care that moved worlds and moved between them. In the manner of oral tradition I would weave the words of others—of extremophiles—into my own until it was no longer my voice speaking but that of my ancestors, kin and descendants:

“The great and sudden assurance of friendship between us rose: a friendship so much needed by us both in our exile, and already so well proved in the days and nights of our bitter journey, that it might as well be called, now as later, love. But it was from the difference between us, not from the affinities and likenesses, but from the difference, that that love came: and it was itself the bridge, the only bridge, across what divided us.”20

I looked around at each of their faces in turn; eyes aglow within pits of darkness in the light of a dancing flame.

“And I guided you and you guided me, and together we walked blindly across. In the darkness we met between the poles of our difference—“we had touched, in the only way we could touch,” for to meet in the Light “would be for us to meet once more as aliens”21—and across our difference a warm and glowing kinship grew: a glow that melted the shadows of our former repression—in whose comforting depths we had hidden for so long—and threw us beyond the horizon of the possible, no longer at the whim of the tides.”

GED RIBAS-GOODY

References

  1. (Notes) Ursula K. Le Guin, 2010 [1969]. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York/London: Ace Books (Penguin), p. 1
  2. Extract from my field logs
  3. ibid.
  4. Stefan Helmreich, 2009. Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 16
  5. Le Guin. The Left Hand of Darkness, p. 286
  6. Patricia Leavy, 2012. “Fiction and Critical Perspectives on Social Research: A Research Note.” Humanity & Society, 36(3), 251-259, p. 252-254
  7. Extract from my field logs
  8. Audre Lorde, 2007 [1984]. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press. 110-114, p. 2. Accessed 22 July, 2020.
  9. Myra Hird, 2015. “Theorizing Queer Inhumanisms: In/human Waste Environments.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21(2-3), 213-15, p. 214-15
  10. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, 2010 [1922]. The Worst Journey in the World. London: Vintage (Random House), p. 382
  11. Sara Ahmed, 2019. Uses of Use. London: Duke University Press, p. 220
  12. Extact from my field logs
  13. ibid.
  14. bell hooks, 1990. “Homeplace (a site of resistance)” Yearning: Race, gender, and cultural politics. Boston, MA: South End Press. Accessed April 22, 2019. p. 384
  15. Extract from my field logs
  16. Jose Esteban Muñoz, 2015. “The Sense of Brownness.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21(2-3), 209-10, p. 209
  17. Sara Ahmed, 2019. “Complaint as Queer Method.” Keynote lecture, The Queer Art of Feeling from Cambridge University, Cambridge, May 3
  18. Susan Stryker, 2015. “Transing the Queer (In)human.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21(2-3), 227-30, p. 227-28
  19. ibid. p. 228
  20. Le Guin. The Left Hand of Darkness, p. 267
  21. ibid.

Author Bio

Ged Ribas-Goody is a transdisciplinary researcher and postgraduate student in the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths University interested in emancipatory methodologies. Her research learns from trans lived experiences, care practices and survival tactics in order to nurture communal trans pedagogies—what she terms extremophile pedagogies—within/against/beyond the spaces of institutionalized education. Incorporating forms of communal knowledge production and storytelling, her work attempts to cultivate tools for blurring, transforming and speculating beyond hegemonic systems of racial, gendered, sexual and bodily classification.