Settler Rural Imaginaries of MichFest

Connecting Settler Legacies and Cis Fear

  • Jacklyn Weier Penn State University
Keywords: Settler colonialism, transphobia, anarchism, rural imaginaries, MichFest


Thinking through scholarship at the intersections of anarcha-feminism, settler colonialism, and heteropatriarchy, this paper uses the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MichFest) as a case study to examine how settler rural imaginaries are mobilized to reify settler and cis hierarchies. The two imaginaries of interest – “safety in the woods” and “Nature is [cis] female” – rely on settler legacies: the first is derived from the emptiness created by settler state violence and Indigenous displacement, and the second is a reproduction of settler sexuality. To understand how these imaginaries surfaced at MichFest, I analyze online media created around the time of MichFest’s closing. Given the blame of MichFest’s closing was often placed on the issue of trans-exclusion, blog posts and opinion pieces around this time serve as a small sample of the trans-exclusionary rhetoric found at MichFest that reproduced these imaginaries. Most of the texts address concerns about trans-inclusion leading to sexual assault, creating an implicit connection between women’s fears and cis fears. The discourse around this time reproduced the wilderness of MichFest as a cis women’s landscape, constructing the land as a cis woman. In using these two imaginaries, women at MichFest are producing a cis women’s landscape that relies on the exclusion of both Indigenous and trans people, reproducing settler and cis dominance.


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How to Cite
Weier, J. (2021). Settler Rural Imaginaries of MichFest. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(2), 171-188. Retrieved from
Special Issue - Anarchist Geographies and Epistemologies of the State