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From the grasslands of the Columbia Plateau to the rich valleys west of the Cascade Mountains, There are over 70,000 miles of rivers in Washington state. Rivers are vital to our region’s ecosystems, hosting a wide diversity of living things in their waters and along their banks – our beautiful state would not be what it is without our waterways. How might we better understand rivers and ensure their vitality now, and in the future?
According to queer-trans-feminist river scientist Cleo Wölfle Hazard, the key to our rivers’ futures requires centering the values of justice, sovereignty, and dynamism. Wölfle Hazard’s new book, Underflow: Queer Trans Ecologies and River Justice, meets at the intersection of river sciences, queer and trans theory, and environmental justice, and explores river cultures and politics at five sites of water conflict and restoration in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Incorporating work with salmon, beaver, and floodplain recovery projects, Wölfle Hazard weaves narratives about innovative field research practices with a queer and trans focus on love and grief for rivers and fish. Wölfle Hazard frames the book with the concept of underflows — important, but unseen parts of a river’s flow that seep down through the soil or rise up from aquifers deep underground. Wölfle Hazard explains that there are underflows in river cultures, sciences, and politics, too, where Native nations and marginalized communities fight to protect rivers.
In discussion with UW associate professor Stephanie Clare, Wölfle Hazard describes why rivers matter for queer and trans life and how science can disrupt settler colonialism.
Cleo Wölfle Hazard (he/him, ze/hir, they/them) is assistant professor in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, coauthor of Thirsty for Justice: A People’s Blueprint for California Water, and coeditor of Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground.
Stephanie Clare is an Associate Professor of English and the author of Earthly Encounters: Sensation, Feminist Theory, and the Anthropocene (SUNY Press 2019). Their writing in feminist and queer studies has appeared in GLQ, Signs, Social Text, and differences, and they are currently writing a second monograph: Non-Binary/Woman: An Auto-Theory.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.