As part of a cluster of current research projects I’m currently undertaking on climate, colonialism, and the deep history of interspecies contact, I’ve begun to think about the human gastrointestinal tract as a site of world- and war-making. Drawing on feminist science studies theories that radically undermine the holism and independence of the human body, I am beginning to read and think with the gut as a site of porous repopulation and depopulation of interspecies bodies and energies subjected to the biopolitical management of environmental and state systems. While in contemporary epidemiological and epigenetic thinking, this manifests as a set of discourses on precarity and futurity concerning the capacities of immune systems affected by diet, antibiotics, and contagions, I am learning that there is a longer and broader history of medical thinking about the gut and its networked capacities. This history informs disparate sets of interventions linking the ‘human’ patient to the technological and environmental systems that constitute it, as well as to certain state discourses that invest hope in the gut as a workaround to both the negatively defined rights of liberal bodily integrity and to traditional constructions of welfare and humanitarianism.
I will be presenting my initial, unformed thoughts on ‘instestinal inhumanism’ and ‘gut futurisms’ at the Experiments in Thinking the Human symposium at the University of Illinois in late March 2017.