Hocquenghem, Mieli and Seahorses: Nature and Biology at the Roots of Queer Theory

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    This paper considers the work of two leftist European activists from the 1970s, Mario Mieli and Guy Hocquenghem. It considers their different ideas about nature and biology, focusing on the reasons why their views about the origins of sexuality came to be different. This essay argues that Hocquenghem conflated biology with the oppressive systems that have used it, whereas Mieli is shown to have advocated intellectual engagement with biological discourse, such as animal models. This is important because both authors are considered founders within queer theory, yet Hocquenghem’s ideas are widely known and accepted while Mieli’s are not. The translation history of Mieli’s text suggests that positive views of biology have since been suppressed in mainstream queer theory.
    The variety of attitudes to biological metaphor in classical queer theory is underappreciated and uncovering it is significant. New considerations of ‘queer nature’, based on field observations, do not trace their conceptual roots to earlier writings of the sexual revolution. This paper proposes Mieli as a theoretical forebear for those seeking a more positive view towards biology within modern cultural discourse.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-56
    Number of pages26
    JournalThe Researcher: an Interdisciplinary Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Mieli
    • Hocquenghem
    • Foucault
    • essentialism
    • biology
    • homosexuality
    • queer


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