A close up photo of a yellow protista with veins branching out

Protean Thinking: Toward a Relational Environmentalism, A Workshop with Aimee Bahng and Community Reading Group
Sunday, May 1st, 1-4 PM 

Octavia E. Butler was fascinated by the speculative worlds made possible by slime molds, anglerfish, and other category-defying species in the Kingdom Protista. In the taxonomic projects of nineteenth-century Europe, science and empire became intertwined, cataloging everything from “exotic” flora and fauna during scientific expeditions to the world beyond Europe. 

This critical reading workshop considers the nonhierarchical socialities offered by Octavia Butler’s work, while following the human encounters with Kingdom Protista that illuminate the concurrently unfolding histories of U.S. imperialism, computational science, global racial capitalism, and ecosystems engineering that run on logics of containment, enclosure, and improvement. Along the way, questions of human relationships to other species, our legacies of racial ecologies, and how humans might most ethically meet our remaining time on Earth.  

Participants can expect to read and discuss a selection of readings, including some of Bahng’s most recent work, followed by a group discussion. Please sign up here to receive the readings in advance.

This is a free in-person event that will take place at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive. This program is on the occasion of the Dividual exhibition. Support is provided by Artis and the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.


Aimee Bahng (she/her) is an associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona College. She is the author of Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Duke UP 2018) and a member of the Feminist Editorial Collective behind the Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies volume (NYU Press 2021). Her second monograph, tentatively titled “Settler Environmentalism and Pacific Resurgence” is currently underway.  

Organized by Joy | Jade and Andrew McNeely

Image: Slime mold in culture: Physarum polycephalum; plasmodial wandering stage, (seeking food). Wired Science Source.