Myra Hird

by Nene

Myra Hird

amy swiffen

biological notions of sex – avoided in sociology

but basically science and tech studies.

Open university

understanding materiality in a way that undermines the binary approach to human, non-human

society is more than the human aspect of it

things are forceful, agentic, not just our bidding. Therefore behooves us to rearrange these entities.

Humans need not be vital actors

interaction btw animals and human

more interested in bacteria, exploring region of microcosm – what it means to take bacteria seriously.

We think of things that are big like us, not anything else. Totally arbitrary, like white light in the spectrum.

Termite symbiosis with protis – allows termite to digest wood and live! In turn, symbionts all the way down. Human beings are symbionts are, too. Ancestrally, entirely bacterial.

Radical symmetry

punchline, relevance of her work is: bacteria and rest of organisms on the planet. Created all living organisms, and the biosphere that enables all living organisms to exist.

The oxygen holocaust. Previously, everything was carbon dioxide. We breathe out bacterial waste.

We are consumers of the world. We are utterly dependent on bacteria, but bacteria couldn’t care less about us. Without bacteria, the planet would die. We are vulnerable to bacteria.

Build an ethics of vulnerablility.

Nigel clark: inhuman nature: sociable life on a dynamic planet

tsunamis, earthquakes, fire: this only important because of impact in terms of human.

He brings the materiality of it to the fore.

If we’re not in command of global warming, we are more vulnerable, to tread MORE carefully, not less.

Interface of nature/culture well articulated. They want to focus on living/non, organic/non, biosphere/geosphere. These are what need to be pused/explored, offer us new insights.

In order for life to exist, life needs to come from non-living.

b. in order for life to be maintained, nonliving must be converted and processed by living matter.

Plate tectonics: slow amassing of dead bacteria that casue tectonic shifts.

Things in themselves – access things as things through humans, not as themselves

speculative realism – all entities need to access the world, not just humans, we’re not unique or special. Human NOT separate from the cosmos

idea that if things get more complex, we get to be the superiorly most complex thing. But things can also be about statis, decomplexification.

Waste management

(for funding)

landfill expert

bring radical asymmetry (human vulnerablility) + volatile earth processes

everything on earth is something else’s waste, earth recycles in ways we don’t control.

Metabolism: how do all living things metabolize waste?

Canada ideal site: we produce more waste than any other country. They go to landfills

landfills are brimming and filling up. Exporting waste to michigan, to the artic. To winnipeg.

Landfills are tricky, depend on liners to prevent leaking of biomatter into groundwater. Never perfect.

Most of what happens there is bacterial processes. Introducing bacteria to process. Scientists worried because we don’t control this. Bacteria reproduce vertically (generationally) but also horizontally (new dna).

Researching how these bacteria are interacting, what they are actually doing.


critique of binary.

We emphasize the bacteria, but ultimately working for the human condition.

She says: yes, I would live to survive. Yes, will be doing the modernist work of

the new ontology of how do we talk , stable new language for non-human things interacting with other non-human things.

“everything is about politics, but not all politics is human”

how do we talk about the stuff we have no access to?

Physics comes as close to that as we can so far.

The potential payoff is a new paradigm. We knew what science and technology offers, so lets see how far we can go, to what

why are men doing object philosophy? Why are women doing relational philosophy? Haven’t we done this already? Why no dialogue going on?

Probe, write poetry about it, sure. But what makes us want to shift to hang out with the bacteria?

Haraway: when species meet. Another form of ccounting that matters. Is that what you’re after? Yes! When not-species meet.

The accounting we have right now is: wash your hands, its pathogenic. Theyre out to get us.

Role of language in this whole thing. We can’t get into the language of

bonnie bassler – form ? Sensing

actually, language is not just human. Bacteria communicate. “but communication is not language” to others… take a majority vote. And will move, or respond.

Oxford scientists who study bacterial consciousness (a la Heidegger)

quirks and quirks.

Why must we keep language and sentience as uniquely human?

Haraway – responses in the open. Open up the playing field in who gets to play.

Like the idea of role of inhuman aspects in society. What is the role of sociology in society?

Speculative realism – harman

The people whose work she says she likes:

Karen Barad
Donna Haraway
Vicki Kirby
Elizabeth Wilson
Astrid Schrader
Jami Weinstein
Linda Birke
Sadie Plant
Nigel Clark
Peter Van Wyck