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Dr. Sofia Varino

Research Project

My current book-length project examines the genealogies of the coronavirus pandemic in the context of climate change and environmental devastation. I approach the pandemic as an ecological, biomedical and clinical phenomenon in relation to environmental and racial justice movements, as well as queer and feminist health activism, with a special focus on North America.


My research centers on medical and scientific knowledge production (especially immunology, virology and epidemiology) and how biomedical practices are historically entangled with political, material and economic forces in what has come to be known as the age of the Anthropocene. I am particularly interested in concepts of indeterminacy and uncertainty; marginal and obsolete knowledge systems; and epistemic justice, inclusivity and accessibility in higher education. I have published in Somatechnics, European Journal of Women’s Studies, Women’s Studies Quarterly and Feral Feminisms, among others. My poetry pamphlet Natural Language was published in 2017 by Dancing Girl Press and I have been working with poetry and experimental prose in various formats since 2002.

During 2016-18, I was a research fellow at the Image Knowledge Gestaltung Cluster of Excellence at Humboldt University of Berlin, and I have designed and taught courses in the Gender Studies program at Humboldt. My academic research and teaching are informed by many years of queer and feminist activism spanning public art and community organizing. I co-hosted the podcast Radical Encounter, directed three editions of the NYC Feminist Film Week (2017-19) and have been collaborating since 2010 with Harmattan Theater, an NYC based environmental performance ensemble.

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies with a certificate in Art and Philosophy from Stony Brook State University of New York (SUNY).

Research Interests

  • Environmental Theory (esp. queer ecologies, ecofeminism, environmental ethics)
  • History & Philosophy of Science (esp. immunology, virology, environmental health)
  • Multispecies Studies
  • Bioethics & Biosecurity
  • Queer, Decolonial and Feminist Epistemologies
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Aesthetics

Publications and Activities

Publications (Selected)

  • Pathogenic (Auto)Ecologies: Environmental Illness Mechanisms. Handbook to the Medical-Environmental Humanities, Eds. Scott Slovic, Swarnalatha Rangarajan, Vidya Sarveswaran, Bloomsbury, 2022 (forthcoming July 28).
  • Technology’s Bodies: Notes from the Technosomata Symposium, GenderBlog, Humboldt University of Berlin, January 13, 2022.
  • Un)Doing Viral Time: Queer Temporalities of Living & Dying in Pandemic Times. Whatever: Transdisciplinary Journal of Queer Theory special section: What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Queer Death? Dossier, Volume 4, June/July 2021.
  • Multidirectional Thalassology: Comparative Lagoon Ecologies, co-authored with May Joseph. Shima Journal, Volume 15, Number 1, 2021.
  • Somatechnics Special Issue: Data Matters. Co-edited with Lisa Malich and Lotta Fiedel. Volume 9, Numbers 2-3. Edinburgh University Press (2019).
  • Coeliac Activity: Disassembling Gluten and Coeliac Disease. Somatechnics Special Issue. Vol. 9, Numbers 2-3 (2019).
  • Getting Our Hands Dirty: Reflections on Data. Co-authored with Lotta Fiedel and Lisa Malich. Somatechnics Special Issue. Vol. 9, Numbers 2-3 (2019).
  • Incorporeal Conditions: Elizabeth Grosz’s Ontoethics. Book review of The Incorporeal by Elizabeth Grosz (Columbia University Press, 2017). Freiburger Zeitschrift für Geschlechter Studien Special Issue: The Place of the Political in Critical Feminist Materialisms. Issue 24 (2018).
  • Liminal Politics: Performing Feminine Difference with Hélène Cixous. European Journal of Women's Studies Special Issue: Femininity Revisited. Vol. 25, Issue 3 (2018).
  • Aquapelagic Assemblages: Performing Urban Ecology with Harmattan Theater. Co-authored with May Joseph. Women’s Studies Quarterly Special Issue: At Sea. Vol. 45, Issue 1 & 2, Spring/Summer (2017).
  • Natural Language. Dancing Girl Press, Chicago (2017).
  • Vital Differences. Indeterminacy and the Biomedical Body. Stony Brook University SUNY (2017).      
  • The Brain’s Body: Neuroscience & Corporeal Politics by Victoria Pitts-Taylor. Book review of The Brain’s Body by Victoria Pitts-Taylor (Duke University Press, 2016). Gender Bulletin 53 (2016/17).


Activities (Selected)

  • Multispecies Collaborations with the Venetian Lagoon. Planetary Survival Aesthetics Session. Planetary Precarity and Future Habitability International Conference, February 18 & 19, 2022 (online).
  • Care Collectives: Therapeutic and Pedagogical Transformations from AIDS to Covid-19. AIDS, Covid-19, and the Medical Humanities Forum Session. MLA Annual Convention, Washington DC, January 6-9, 2022 (online).
  • Conversation with Giulia Chesi, She can cook a potato in her hand and make it taste like chocolate exhibition by Jasmine Reimer, 2021. Link: https://www.jasminereimer.com/she-can-cook-a-potato-in-her-hand-and-make-it-taste-like-chocolate/ka030q4w7sc7jt3cecikk1e29705e4
  • Water Activity, Aesthetic Responses to Environmental Emergencies Panel, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Biennial conference. July 26-August 6, 2021 (online). https://youtu.be/2KZkgynwPqQ
  • Can Zöe Speak? Technosomata Symposium, Humboldt University of Berlin and Exeter University (UK). July 5, 2021 (online).
  • A Viral Ecology: Tracing Planetary Temporalities of Care Across a Pandemic Anthropocene, COVID-19 beyond Borders: Rethinking Medical Humanities at the Frontlines Conference, University of Vienna. June 28, 2021 (online). https://youtu.be/qgn3noAlbGo
  • Viral Activity, British Society for Science and Literature Annual Conference. April 8, 2021 (online).
  • Encounters with Viral Objects interview for Unravelling the Anthropocene podcast, Episode 20, Liberal Arts collective at Pennsylvania State University. March 18, 2021. https://sites.psu.edu/liberalartscollective/unraveling-the-anthropocene-podcast/episode-20-encounters-viral-objects/
  • Radical Care interactive session on Instagram Live, Hudara NGO. January 31, 2021. https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMKz2dYhbQu/
  • Environmental Justice and Prosthetic Embodiment in Cherrie Moraga’s Play Heroes and Saints. Public Lecture, Prosthetic Embodiment & Cognition Lecture Series. Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. January 27, 2021 (online). https://youtu.be/3pVqg2v2sNI
  • 2020 “Sentient Symphony: Life as a Category of Knowledge in the Popular Science Narratives of Lynn Margulis.” British Society for Science and Literature Winter Symposium, Sheffield University. November 28, 2020 (online).
  • An Unnatural History of Gaia Theory According to James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, European Society for the History of Science Conference. Aug 31-Sept 3, 2020 (online).
  • Multispecies Ontologies in the Anthropocene, Society for Literature, Science and the Arts Europe Annual Conference (SLSAeu). June 17-20, 2020 (online).
  • Interview for Breathable Futures Today by Magda Górska, 2020. https://breathablefutures.today/