Queer Theory for Lichens

David Griffiths


An article published in The Quarterly Review of Biology in December 2012 ended with the sentence: “We are all lichens.” The article discusses symbiosis in organisms such as lichens as well as in humans, to argue that humans cannot be thought of as individuals by any biological criteria. In this article I follow this argument and offer a brief naturalcultural history of lichens to illustrate their argument and the work of biologist Lynn Margulis on symbiogenesis. Following this, I ask: if we have never been human – if we are all composites like lichens – then what does this mean for sexuality? I argue that lichens and other symbioses can open up a queer ecological perspective that can help counter the privileging of heteronormativity and sexual reproduction, and that this has consequences for both science and society.


symbiosis; lichens; queer; biology; ecologies

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

MANAGING EDITORS   Sarah Iannicello, Benjamin J. Kapron

- - - - -


VOL 20 CFP PRIMARY AUTHOR   Ronak Ghorbani Nejad

SCHOLARLY REVIEW TEAM   James Arruda, Nicole Beuglet, Julie Chamberlain, Aadita Chaudhury, Amanda Di Battista, Kesha Fevrier, Sarah Iannicello, Adam Linnard, Jessica Lukawiecki, Jacob McLean, Michaela McMahon, Indra Singh

CREATIVE REVIEW TEAM   Nicole Beuglet, Amanda Di Battista, Sarah Iannicello, Morgan Johnson, Kelly King, Andrew Mark, Eva Mencin, Indra Singh

COPY EDITORS   Sarah Iannicello, Benjamin J. Kapron, Rachel Lam, Anthony Sandre

LAYOUT AND DESIGN   Benjamin J. Kapron, Kelly King, Scott Lillico, Max Meyer

GRADUATE ASSISTANTS   Sarah Iannicello, Adam Linnard, Jessica Lukawiecki, Jacob McLean

TREASURER   Jeffrey Zavala

PRINTER   York University Printing Services, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON  M3J 1P3 printing@yorku.ca

FUNDING SUPPORT   Faculty of Environmental Studies (York University), PhD Environmental Studies Student Association

SPECIAL THANKS TO   Nina de Jesus, Amanda Di Battista, Ruben Esguerra, Steve Glassman, Darren Patrick, Lily Piccone, Dr. Catriona Sandilands, and Dr. Peter Timmerman

COVER ARTWORK   Kokila Bhattacharya