Queer speciation: Or, Darwin on and off the farm
(2018) Victorian Studies, 60 (2), art. no. 697833, pp. 228-235.
In the debates over futurity that have pervaded queer theory in the early years of this millennium, the species plot has found less prevalence than it might have done. While Foucaultian biopower continues to exert a huge influence in the field, the interest in the speciation argument has ceased to seem particularly exciting. The history of speciation, though, offers a number of useful lenses through which to think about the ecology of queerness as mediated by capital—and vice versa—in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of the places in which to start such an investigation is Charles Darwin’s understanding of how industrial agriculture inflects the distinction between variation in nature and variation under domestication. Domestication, Darwin insists, produces more queer monstrosities. If there is a link—genealogical or otherwise— between Foucault’s “species” and Darwin’s “domesticates,” then this connection needs to be elaborated through an analysis of how a (queerly conceived) reproductive sphere participates in capitalist agricultural production.