Gender, Nature and Culture

Several art works by Amanda Selinder sitting by a window.
Photo from artist Amanda Selinder’s exhibition, IASPIS Open Studios 2017

The research area gender, nature and culture builds upon postdisciplinary bridgings of arts and sciences.

 It draws on research from traditional disciplines within the humanities, such as history and philosophy, literature studies, art and art history; on veneered interdisciplinary disciplines like gender studies and feminist theory, science and technology studies, cultural studies, human animal studies, and eco-critique, and on new humanities such as environmental humanities, digital and techno-humanities, multispecies-, decolonial- and oceanic humanities, to pose new questions about humans, nature, culture and environment. Heavily dependent on robust methodological approaches and situated knowing, it develops the postdisciplinary practices of feminist posthumanities.
Within, and on the outskirts of Gender Studies, the analytical concept of gender (and its theoretical allies) has for a long time worked as an engine of discovery to understandings of embodiment, biology and environment in other species than human. For instance, the biological and cultural insights into the Sex and Gender divide, a smaller version of the Nature and Culture divide, was historically highly generative. It gave us feminist science and technology studies (fSTS), continental philosophy on sexual difference and embodiment, ecological humanities and eco-feminism, gender medicine, feminist cultural studies, new materialisms, and more.

A mixed postnatural world

Yet, today this divide (Sex and Gender) cannot be sustained by research as a foundational divide in a world that is thoroughly mixed, naturecultural or even postnatural. The debates on the Anthropocene, the planetary age of humans, testifies to this. From people-pet interactions to synthetic biology, from human induced climate change to new reproductive technologies, we find the mingling of what we used to call nature or natural with human affairs and historical power structures of present society.

In a postnatural world, nature cannot be separated from culture, sex from gender, body from technology, animal from human, matter from meaning, fact from story. We can however with situated knowledge distinguish right from wrong, using feminist ethics of care and concern, collaboration and conviviality. And simply do better in research. In practice, the feminist research group The Posthumanities Hub has since 2008 been bringing science and art to the humanities, and more-than-human humanities to the people, thus contributing to research in Gender, nature and culture at Linköping University.

The Posthumanities Hub

The Posthumanities Hub is an interdisciplinary research group (Co-director Dr Marietta Radomska and Director and Founder Prof Åsberg). It is also a lively multi-university platform and a Swedish-international community of more-than-human arts and humanities networks. The Hub hosts various forms of posthumanities, and trail-blazing feminist environmental humanities work. The Hub is a harbour for research projects and science communication activities (citizen humanities/citizen science), PhD- and postdoc training, public events, networks, guest researchers, artists-in-residence and in-house seminars. As a meeting place for arts and sciences, the Posthumanities Hub brings non-humans (nature, technology, animal) to the humanities, and transformational humanities to society.

Aim to tackle societal challenges

Research within the area of Gender, nature, culture (the founding professor and chair since 2015 is Cecilia Åsberg) and within The Posthumanities Hub aims to face pressing societal challenges --- such as biological and technological advancement, climate change and environmental degradation, mass species extinction and synthetic biologies (from transgenic species to CRSPR technologies) --- across the modern divides. We do it in a targeted manner, case by case. Curiously, creatively, critically, and collaboratively.

The Posthumanities Hub was inaugurated in 2008 (with a Darwin Day at Tema Genus) as the research group of Cecilia Åsberg with a LiU Future Research Leader Grant. It specializes in the human and more-than-human condition, in the past and for the future. And it has continued to thrive and spread its collaborative seeds across Swedish universities and in international research thanks to funding from Linköping University and KTH Royal Insitute of Technology, European, North American, Nordic and Swedish funding bodies (such as ERC, SSCHRC, VR, RJ, FORMAS, MISTRA, NOP-HS).