CLEO WOELFLE-ERSKINE

Cruising Shorelines

Cleo speaks to students in the pilot field course Ecopoetics Along Shorelines.

RESEARCH

My research focuses on ecological and social dimensions of human relations to rivers and their multi-species inhabitants, and on how queer trans feminist thought can transfigure ecological science as it’s used by Indigenous and non-native practitioners in river management. An activist and artist with formal training in ecology, geomorphology, critical social science, and feminist science and technology studies, I currently work as an Assistant Professor in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle. My students and I conduct collaborative research in partnership with Native nations, agencies, citizen scientists, and local community members, and are currently working on the Duwamish and Stillaguamish rivers in Washington and the Scott and Mid-Klamath rivers in California, as well as in the freshwater-saltwater interface around Puget Sound. PhD work in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley drew together a collaborative of scientists and Sonoma County residents to experiment with storing and infiltrating winter rain to increase summer streamflow to benefit juvenile salmon, and exploring the possibilities of collaborating with beavers to create cool refuges for coho. As a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz, I drew this field experience together with queer, transgender, and Indigenous theory to theorize how river sciences could work against the Manifest Destiny logics that shape settler environmental governance in the Western US. My forthcoming book Underflow: Transfiguring rivers, Queering ecology explores how a queer-trans-feminist approach can ally with Indigenous praxis to renew human-water-fish relations.

Raising a glass to the Duwamish River


“This algorithm for living, theory and praxis, seemingly intertwined and relationally responsive to each other, is generated through intimate relations with land; land that is constructed and defined by a responsive, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical relationality. Living as a creative act. Self-determination, consent, kindness and freedom practiced daily in all our relations. Practices, replicated over and over making as the material basis for experiencing and influencing the world.”

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy & Regeneration in Nishnaabewin

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