Annapurrna Xochiestentli '25 at Log Lunch:"Nothing to Lose and Everything to Learn"

This week, Log Lunch goers were joined by Annapurrna Xochiestentli, a current sophomore at Williams who traveled to Egypt for COP27 this past year. Her professor Brittany Meché introduced Annapurrna as an advocate, writer, creator, and “trouble-maker in the best ways.” Annapurrna struck Meché and her audience with her incredible “willingness to challenge,” an approach to COP27 that showed Annapurrna the ways that the landscape and social spaces of COP27 interact with notions of disability, queerness, and body-territory and how each is interrelated with climate action. 

Annapurrna travelled to Egypt with the Ecological Popular Assembly, a group of Mexican youth with queer, disabled, and racialized identities whose goal is to reimaginine borders of democracy, promote trans resistance, pursue anti-militarization, address water scarcity in Mexico, and protest PEMEX, the company responsible for recent detrimental fires on the ocean surface. At COP27, Annapurrna was struck by the conference as a space of necropolitics: a governability that controls who dies and who lives, coined by Achille Mbembe who stated that “populations are subjected to living conditions that confer upon them the status of the living dead.” The landscape of COP27 itself embodied this idea; the city of Sharm El Sheikh was constructed for the purpose of injecting capital into the economy by way of tourism and diplomacy, but the result is a completely material landscape. The buildings are facades with nothing behind their front walls, a representation of the lack of identity and humanity in COP27 as a project. For Annapurrna, this dynamic brought to mind the concept of body territory, which recognizes the interconnectivity of people and nature, allowing us to acknowledge our bodies as an “extension of land.” 

The interconnectivity of the body and land also relates to David Pellow’s concept of pollution as the material embodiment of racism, intended to produce benefits for some people while doing extreme harm to others. Annapurrna noted how this idea reveals how the exploitation of marginalized people—often with queer, racialized, and disabled bodies—coincides with the exploitation of land that is necessary to our colonial capitalist systems. While COP27 is widely understood as a meeting of global leaders to discuss solutions to climate change, Annapurrna emphasized its true nature as a conversation among powerful people “behind closed doors,” who are only seeking to perpetuate these normalized systems of oppression and exploitation.

Despite the difficulty of disentangling these entrenched systems, Annapurrna suggests that the action of body liberation poses a solution: the “monstrosity” of queer, disabled, and non-white identities provides a fluid lens for considering humanity, allowing us to rethink the borders between ourselves and the natural world. In this way, body liberation is a crucial, central aspect of the climate movement that allows us to have creative solutions. The other key aspect of how we must move forward, in Annapurrna’s words, is our power as a collective; nothing can be achieved in isolation. By elevating the connection between human and natural worlds–through the lens of monstrosity and within a framework of collective engagement–we can move towards systems of equality and away from the exploitation and degradation of ourselves and the land. If we can apply Annapurrna’s approach to how we think about environmentalism, then we have “nothing to lose and everything to learn.”

Lunch this week was homemade pizza with white beans, arugula, and caramelized onions, roasted cabbage, carrot salad, and lavender cookies with lemon curd for dessert. The cabbage and carrots came from Mighty Foods Farm.

Log Lunch is a CES program hosted every Friday at noon. During Log Lunch, a vegetarian meal prepared by Williams students is served, followed by a talk on an environmental topic. Speakers are drawn from both the student body and faculty of Williams, as well as from local, national, and international organizations. Learn more here.