Gaia Is a Tough Bitch
Keywords:Gaia, Lovelocck, Margulis, Latour, Science and Technology Studies
This essay stages a critical engagement with the late works of James Lovelock, the famous Gaia scientist hagiographized by Science Studies scholar Bruno Latour. I argue that Latour’s celebration of Lovelock’s Gaia dangerously obscures a more compelling version of Earth systems’ theory, belonging to Lovelock’s collaborator and co-founder of the theory, Lynn Margulis. Lovelock’s version of Gaia is embedded in a masculinist, bellicose and imperialist discourse reliant upon an emergency rhetoric and justifying geoengineering and A.I. control fantasies. Meanwhile, over the last decade Bruno Latour positioned himself as a thinker of ecology, partly by casting himself as a supporter of Gaia theory. Yet he made no mention of the problematic politics with which Lovelock’s work was entangled. Turning both to Lynn Margulis’ and to feminist philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers’ understanding of Gaia, the article resists anthropocentric visions to articulate less hubristic and potentially more democratic responses to our current ecological catastrophes.