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Title: Re-imagining Reproduction: The Queer Possibilities of Plants

How did plant sexuality come to so hauntingly resemble human sexual formations? How did plant biology come to theorize plant sexuality with binary formulations of male/female, sex/gender, sperm/egg, active males and passive females—all of which resemble western categories of sex, gender, and sexuality? Tracing the extant language of sex and sexuality in plant reproductive biology, we examine the histories of science to explore how plant reproductive biology emerged historically from formations of colonial racial and sexual politics and how evolutionary biology was premised on the imaginations of racialized heterosexual romance. Drawing on key examples, the paper aims to (un)read plant sexuality and sexual anatomy and bodies to imagine new possibilities for plant sex, sexualities, and their relationalities. In short, plant sex and sexuality are not two different objects of inquiry but are intimately related—it is their inter-relation that is the focus of this essay. One of the key impulses from the humanities that we bring to this essay is a careful consideration of how terms and terminologies are related to each other historically and culturally. In anthropomorphizing plants, if plant sexuality were modeled on human sexual formations, might a re-imagination of plant sexuality open new vistas for the biological sciences? While our definitions of plant sexuality will always be informed by contemporary society and culture, interrogating the histories of our theories and terminologies can help us reimagine a biology that allows for new and more accurate understandings of plants, plant biology, and the evolution of reproduction.

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Oxford University Press
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Integrative And Comparative Biology
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National Science Foundation
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