Mutable Matter on Curved Radio again


Image by fellow Curved Radio crew member Olivia Louvel

Curved Radio is back from their (Australian) summer break, and I’m going to be joining them next Sunday at 11pm – Monday 2am Sydney time (about 12-3pm Sunday UK time). Am doing a mini series around borders, starting with tunes by Latin American feminist musicians. For the moment, leaving you with this brilliant collaboration:

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Academic Boycott of International US conferences in Solidarity with People Affected by ‘Muslim Ban’

You can sign the letter here.

London Demo at Downing Street today (30 January 2017) 6-8pm. Demo at Warwick (Piazza) 2pm. More demos around the country/world.

“On 27 January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order putting in place a 90-day ban that denies US entry to citizens from seven Muslim majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. So far, the ban includes dual nationals, current visa, and green card holders, and those born in these countries while not holding citizenship of them. The Order also suspends the admittance of all refugees to the US for a period of 120 days and terminates indefinitely all refugee admissions from Syria. There are indications that the Order could be extended to include other Muslim majority countries.

The Order has affected people with residence rights in the US, as well as those with rights of entry and stay. Some of those affected are fleeing violence and persecution, and have been waiting for years for resettlement in the US as refugees. Others are effectively trapped in the US, having cancelled planned travel for fear that they will be barred from returning. The order institutionalises racism, and fosters an environment in which people racialised as Muslim are vulnerable to ongoing and intensifying acts of violence and hatred.

Among those affected by the Order are academics and students who are unable to participate in conferences and the free communication of ideas. We the undersigned take action in solidarity with those affected by Trump’s Executive Order by pledging not to attend international conferences in the US while the ban persists. We question the intellectual integrity of these spaces and the dialogues they are designed to encourage while Muslim colleagues are explicitly excluded from them.”

New Materialism & Decoloniality Workshop, 7-8 July, Duisburg

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Next week, I will hopefully be attending (and speaking) at the New Materialism & Decoloniality Workshop at Duisburg University. I have to say ‘hopefully’, because the Home Office has still not returned my passport and other documents that I had to send off a few weeks ago for the first part of my citizenship application (fingers crossed that I get them back in time – any advice about alternative travel documents appreciated).

Organised by Olivia Rutazibwa and Pol Bargués-Pedreny of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research, the workshop seeks to bring the two theoretical directions into dialogue with one another. There will be three rounds of discussions in which two people present readings, followed by two discussants who engage with the presentations. The three themes are: 1) The Roots of the Argument. Deconstructions: Nature, Culture and Critique. 2) The Argument. Reconstructions: Infrastructures, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Cosmologies. 3) Thinking ahead with the Argument. Implementations and Implications: Ethics, Ecology and Geopolitics. The three sessions will be followed by a round table. Speakers include:  Anna Agathangelou, Kai Koddenbrock, Mark Jackson, Lisa Tilley, Jessica Schmidt, Vanessa Pupavac and Ovidiu Tichindeleanu.

The dialogues will be preceded by an evening of dialogues and performances on the topic “Climate on the Rise, People on the Move. Understanding Today’s Global Challenges Differently”. Here, Rolando Vazquez (Utrecht University) and Doerthe Rosenow (Oxford Brookes University) “will explore our relation to the earth, vulnerability and what it means to be human in an increasingly uncanny world”.

Attendance is welcome and free. Please e-mail events@gcr21.uni-due.de .

New Article in TCS Geo-Social Formations Special Issue

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Image Source: Björk ‘Mutal Core’

My new article ‘We Are the World? Anthropocene Cultural Production between Geopoetics and Geopolitics‘ is now out in the ‘Geo-Social Formations and the Anthropocene’ Special Issue of Theory, Culture & Society. It was written two years ago, and should be read as the predecessor of the Geoforum article on geopoetics and geopolitics. Big thank you to Kathryn Yusoff and Nigel Clark for inviting me to participate in this issue. Other authors include Myra J Hird and Simon Dalby.

The article is also the second in a series of three on interwar ‘cosmic’ materialisms and their implications for the present. The previous one, ‘Negotiating the Inhuman: Bakhtin, Materiality & the Instrumentalisation of Climate Change’ was also published by Theory, Culture & Society. The third one is currently under review at another journal.

Abstract

The proposal of the ‘Anthropocene’ as a new geological epoch where humans represent the dominant natural force has renewed artistic interest in the ‘geopoetic’, which is mobilized by cultural producers to incite changes in personal and collective participation in planetary life and politics. This article draws attention to prior engagements with the geophysical and the political: the work of Simone Weil and of the editors of the Martinican cultural journal Tropiques, Suzanne and Aimé Césaire. Synthesizing the political and scientific shifts in human-world relationships of their time, both projects are set against oppressive or narcissistic materialisms and experiment with the image of the ‘cosmic’ to cultivate a preoccupation not (only) with a tangible materialism but with an intangible one that emphasizes process and connectivity across wide spatial and temporal scales. The writers’ movement between poetics and politics will be used to enquire what kind of socio-political work a contemporary geopoetic could potentially do.

Guest talk at the New Centre for Research & Practice

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On Monday, I gave a virtual guest lecture at the New Centre for Research & Practice. It was the first instalment of a seminar on ‘Global Politics of the Anthropocene‘, organised and taught by Carlos Amador. You can still join the remainder of the discussion, either as a ‘student’ (which enables you to join the discussions) or as a silent listener (‘audit’ option). The upcoming Monday events (UK time: 11pm – 1:30 am) include speakers across disciplines, including fellow Scottish academic Zoe Todd (Anthropology, University of Aberdeen).

The paper I had prepared was on Daniel Maximin‘s geopoetics, which focus on undoing hegemonic geopolitical images by utilising the geophysical. The talk also drew attention to the violence of academic knowledge production, including citation practices. Both themes, for me, relate very strongly to Anthropocene discourse, where attention to the colonial/imperialist dimensions of geophysical phenomena, as well as of research practices themselves, has been lacking.

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Image source: New Centre for Research & Practice

Film: Concerning Violence

This week, I went to see ‘Concerning Violence‘, a film by Göran Hugo Olsson that is based on Frantz Fanon‘s book ‘The Wretched of the Earth‘. The film is, indeed, violent throughout, working across the many levels of brutality in performances of white supremacy. The archive footage covers anything from settler racism to military intervention, illustrating Fanon’s points about the strategies and effects of colonialism. The only commentary, apart from that of the archive material, is provided by a ‘preface’ from Gayatri Spivak, and by Lauryn Hill‘s fittingly sharp reading of passages from each of Fanon’s chapters.

For me, the film arrived after a recent academic debate, where I found myself as the only person defending violence. I argued that violence is often taken up by people with no other means or choices – when nothing else is heard by the oppressor. The general consensus at this seminar was that nothing justifies violence. While I understand this sentiment, I also feel that violence needs to be more understood. It is first of all easy to condemn it when you have not experienced violent oppression yourself. Here, ‘Concerning Violence’ gives a really good insight into what it means to be oppressed, and why people feel compelled to take up arms. This does not mean that the film celebrates or advocates violence. What is instead celebrated is self-education and the desire to bring a better world into being, despite the risk of being subject to violence for doing so.

“For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must make a new start, develop a new way of thinking, and endeavour to create a new man.” — Frantz Fanon

The Clangers on Geopolitics

Before I report back from the World Social Science Fellowship seminar on global social governance (what a mouthful!), here is a video I recently came across. At university, I belatedly got introduced to the series ‘The Clangers’ (thanks, Faith & Steve!). For those who are unfamiliar with this series, it is set on a moon-like planet populated mostly by whistling mouse-like creatures, but also other ‘aliens’. These occasionally struggle to interact with human artefacts (as well as humans themselves) that land on their planet from space. This episode from 1971 – innocently titled ‘The Tablecloth’ – makes fun of flag planting and presents a very carnivalesque take on Cold War geopolitics… I would also be interested in seeing the Clangers’ ‘Vote for Froglet’ 1974 election special. The BBC website explains that, in this special programme, “The Clangers are introduced to the concept of democracy…” Wikipedia writes:

“Inspired by what Postgate refers to as the “Winter of Discontent” (a phrase usually used by others to refer to the winter of 1978–79, but in his case to the miners’ strike of 1974), and by his recollection of post-war Germany, it was broadcast on the night of the second election in 1974.”

Does anyone happen to have a copy?