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Crip Geographies in Climate Fiction

Authors: Jessica Stokes*, Michigan State University
Topics: Disabilities, Social Theory, Animal Geographies
Keywords: fiction, disability, climate change, feminist materialism, trip
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Adam Roberts’ climate fiction book Bête begins with a thought experiment. What if the cow a farmer planned to kill that day could suddenly plead with him not to do so? If environmental activists installed chips into animals that allowed them to talk, how would the technology of the chip impact the animals’ organizational structures and their uses of space and place? The book itself is structured around the riddle of the Sphinx. The Sphinx asks, “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?” And our main character can only come to answer the book’s many questions when he himself experiences disability and takes up a walking stick as a result of an injury. Using Bête as a limping off point, this paper questions the materialist figure of “man with stick” (used by Karen Barad, Niel Bohr, Vicky Kirby, and others) as a means to consider the limited engagements with disability in feminist materialism. This paper argues that while feminist materialists have been treating disability as a hinge (a pivot point around which to make an argument), disabled bodies don’t always perform the intended function people attempt to use us for. Instead, attending to disability in climate fiction and feminist materialism requires an attention to disability not as hinge but as part of the shaky ground on which this theory and literature rests. This paper lingers on crip theory to understand the ever-mutating geographies of climate fiction

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