Caribbean Futures in the Offshore Anthropocene: Debt, Disaster, and Duration

Authors: Mimi Sheller*, Drexel University
Topics: Anthropocene, Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment
Keywords: Black Geographies, Caribbean Hurricanes, Climate Change, Offshoring, Debt, Disaster Recovery
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon C3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria across the Caribbean (wiping out homes and farms, roads and bridges, ports and airports, electricity and communications infrastructure, and water, food, fuel, and medical provisioning systems, especially in Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St Martin/St Maarten, and parts of the British and US Virgin Islands) are haunting reminders and urgent harbingers of a world of climate disaster, halting recovery, and impossible futures. Being at the leading edge of the global capitalist exploitation of people and other living and non-living beings in a world-spanning system of vast inequity and severe injustice, Caribbean thinkers, writers, poets, philosophers, activists, and artists have long lived with, dwelt upon, and offered answers to the problem of being human after Man, as Sylvia Wynter puts it. The question is: what kinds of human, non-human, and island futures can exist here? This talk will address the uneven origins, experiences, and outcomes of Caribbean climate collapse in the disjuncture between four spatio-temporal realities: 1) the extended mobilities of “planetary urbanization” with its Caribbean-based operational landscapes of oil extraction, refining, and primary mining; 2) the accelerated mobilities of “virtual islands” of tourist fantasy, tax havens, offshore banking, financialized debt, vulture hedge funds, and cyber-property markets; 3) the decelerating “islanding effect” of politically fragmented poverty, public debt, austerity, borders, and external humanitarian aid systems; and lastly 4) the durational mobilities of Amerindian survival, Maroon escape, socialist experiments, cultural survival, and diaspora solidarity.

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