Succession II: Queering the Environment – An Introduction

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This post introduces Succession II: Queering the Environment, a fourteen-part series in which contributors explore topics related to unruliness, care, and pleasure. Succession II centers queer people, non-humans, systems, and ideas and explores their impact within the fields of environmental history, environmental humanities, and queer ecology.

In ecology, succession is a series of progressive changes made in a community over time. These changes often lead to higher diversity in an environment.

By Jessica DeWitt, Estraven Lupino-Smith, and Addie Hopes

In June 2020, editor Jessica DeWitt published Succession: Queering the Environment, an eight-part series, that explored the impact of queer people, non-humans, systems, and ideas on the fields of environmental history, environmental humanities, and queer ecology. This series was an effort to begin filling a gap in queer scholarship on our website and to acknowledge the growing influence of queer theory and queer thought on environmental thinking. Succession was a success and remains some of our most-read and most-regularly visited content on our site.

Succession II: Queering the Environment is an effort to build upon the success of the first series and to explore the development of this burgeoning field of thought over the past two years. Like the first series, Succession II considers queer as both a noun and a verb. Focus is given to queer people on the LGBTQIA2+ spectrum and their relationship to the natural world, as well as to exploring what it means to queer environmental ideas and systems.

“Queer, then, is both a noun and a verb… ours is an ecology that may begin in the experiences and perceptions of non-heterosexual individuals and communities, but is even more importantly one that calls into question heteronormativity itself as part of its advocacy around issues of nature and environment – and vice versa.” – Cate Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, Queer Ecologies

Emergent Strategy, Ecological Masculinities, Wild Things all informed Succession II: Queering the Environment
Succession II prompts were inspired by the work of adrienne maree brown, Martin Hultman, Paul M. Pulé, and Jack Halberstam.

Specifically, Succession II contributors were asked to reflect on queer peoples, more-than-humans, ideas, and systems in relation to three prompts related to unruliness, care, and pleasure:

  • Prompt #1: On Unruliness: “How can queer environmental histories, environmental humanities, and queer ecology embrace the wild and disorderly?”

“We need a way to register those bodies that congregate or disperse around the boundaries of a history of sexuality that has named names and made order out of chaos, and in so doing we will not simply be locating subjugated figures or celebrating a naughty and subversive set of nonconformists; rather, we will also be engaging disorderly forms of history, desires that lie beyond the consensus terms of their eras. While the arc of modern queer histories has bent toward legibility, recognition, maturity, and mutuality, wild bodies plot a different course through history and appear only at the very edge of definition, flickering in and out of meaning and sense and tending toward bewilderment. Bewilderment, furthermore, as a form of lostness and unknowing, is not a politically charged statement about being and knowing; it is simply the space rendered by the absence of meaning and direction” (Jack Halberstam, Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire14)

  • Prompt #2: On Care: “How does queering environmental history and humanities scholarship unveil past instances of interspecies and non-anthropocentric ways of caring? How does queer ecology break down gendered barriers to care for one another and help us move toward a more caring biocentric future?”

“All masculinities have infinite capacities to care, which can be expressed towards Earth, human others and ourselves — simultaneously.” (Martin Hultman and Paul M. Pulé, Ecological Masculities: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Guidance, 31)

 “We conclude that climate change denialism epitomises white male effect, providing us with a destructive example of the convergent mechanisms of race, power and resource exploitation that have asserted white men’s primacy precisely because malestream norms persist and shape some men’s values and actions in overtly uncaring directions.”  (Hultman and Pulé, 22)

  • Prompt #3: On Pleasure: “How does queer ecology help us understand and embrace pleasure, and the intersection of pleasure with the natural world? How has a societal obsession with controlling and determining ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ pleasures affected human sexuality? How does looking at the past through a queer lens with a mind to pleasure change our understanding of history and historical processes?

“We… have to stop demonizing pleasure. We try to leverage control over the natural world by making our emotions and sensations less reliable than our thoughts, and then burn at the stake anyone who stays attuned to the ways and power of pleasure in the natural world. It’s counter productive.” (adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, 33).

Signs on a tree that read "The Maine Drag" and "The Princess Path
Princess Path Signpost. By Wanda Wisdom. Flickr Commons.

Succession II will be published throughout the month of June. The posts in this series take on an exciting variety of queer environmental topics, from an environmental history of cruising in Sydney, Australia and the “libidinous geographies” of Montreal to the queer ecologies of video games, science fiction, and film to the unruly pleasures of veganism and the experimental art practices of  a communal ecovillage that “‘drag Nature,’ one tree, one flower and one vegetable at a time.” We hope you’ll be inspired and provoked by what you read in this series, and we welcome new contributors, posts, and projects throughout the year

Feature Image: “Pride Flowers” by Renee Grayson. Flickr Commons.
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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at

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