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 merge the arts and sciences.

Gender, nature, culture conjoins the arts and sciences for living with the wonders and the wounds of the world today. It draws on research from traditional disciplines within the humanities, such as history and philosophy, literature studies, art and art history; on interdisciplinary areas like Gender Studies and feminist Science and Technology Studies; Cultural Studies, Human Animal Studies, artistic research and so called “new humanities”, like Environmental Humanities or Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.

For empirical, theoretical and practical research on gender, nature, culture we draw on the biological, technological and ecological arts and sciences developed to address the nested concerns of today. Attuned analytics and situated knowing are here used and developed as the postdisciplinary practices of feminist posthumanities.

In Gender Studies, the analytical concept of “gender” has for a long time worked as an engine of social discovery and generated new understandings of human (and more-than-human) embodiments and environments. The biological and cultural insights from the “Sex and Gender” divide, a smaller version of the modern Nature and Culture divide, gave a lot of new research over the decades. It engendered new 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 up, naturecultural, even postnatural. The debates on the Anthropocene, the planetary age of humans, testifies to this. From people-pet interactions to AI-art and synthetic biology, from human-induced climate change and plastics in oceans, to new reproductive technologies that exempts us from both gender and sex, we find ourselves amidst a world consisting of an unholy mingling of technologies, biologies and ecologies of what we once in philosophy used to call pure nature.

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. For this postnatural and posthuman predicament, we simply need better attuned research.

In practice, the feminist research group The Posthumanities Hub has since 2008 delivered 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 pivoting on various feminist arts and queer sciences of critique, creativity and “co-laboration”. The Hub is a lively multi-university platform, a wide-ranging community of more humane and more-than-human humanities networks. The Hub hosts various forms of posthumanities, and is famous for its trail-blazing feminist environmental humanities work; its pioneering practices of new materialism and art-science work. A harbour for research projects and science communication activities (citizen humanities/citizen science/open arts), The Hub offers PhD- and postdoc training, public events, networks, guest researchers, artists-in-residence, international webinars and in-house workshops.

As an experimental meeting place for arts and sciences, the Posthumanities Hub brings nonhumans (nature, technology, animal) to the humanities, and transformational humanities to society.

Tackling entangled challenges

Research within the Gender, nature, culture-area and in the Posthumanities Hub aims to face nested democratic, cultural, ecological and technological challenges in polarized society. We develop analytics and situated knowledges it in a targeted manner, case by case, and we build capacity, in curious, creative, critical and collaborative ways of working together.

The Posthumanities Hub was inaugurated in 2008 (with an international Charles “Darwin Day” at Tema Genus) as the research group of Cecilia Åsberg within the LiU Future Research Leaders framework (2008-2012). The team specialises in the human/posthuman or more-than-human condition, in the past and for the future. We have thrived and spread collaborative seeds across Swedish universities and in international research thanks to funding from Linköping University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, European, North American, Nordic and Swedish funding bodies (such as ERC, SSCHRC, VR, RJ, FORMAS, MISTRA, NOP-HS).