Geosocial Rifts 2: Decolonizing and Reinhabiting Broken Earth

Type: Paper
Theme: Black Geographies
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Organizers: Nigel Clark, Kathryn Yusoff, Stephanie Wakefield
Chairs: Angela Last


‘Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?’ So begins SF author N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning Broken Earth trilogy. As it’s ever more likely we will all soon be inhabiting an unfamiliar planet, where to look for guidance, insight, admonition? In geological terms a rift is a zone where the lithosphere is being torn apart, to which might now be added the ruptures between different states of the Earth system. Social history, too, is shockingly replete with wrenching divisions and loss of entire worlds. This is more than metaphor. Just as ‘colonies provided willfully innocent euro-modernity with a military, juridical and governmental laboratory’ (Gilroy 2010), they were also bio-geological laboratories – with observations of colonial-induced climate change going back as far as the 15th century. While colonialism visited alien ecologies and harsh new worlds upon colonized peoples, the enslavement and transoceanic relocation of racialized others has subsequently been likened to alien abduction. But in the face of brutal dehumanization, many colonized and enslaved peoples endured – which often involved forging new alliances or revitalizing old alliances with nonhuman forces of Earth and life.

By geosocial rifting we refer to intersections of geologic and social unworlding, to the conjunction of dehumanizing processes with events of `inhuman’ becoming. Less intent on policing planetary boundaries, we are more concerned with how peoples carve out an existence and praxis in profoundly unsafe operating spaces. This might be approached from two angles. First, we are interested in the making strange of the privileged worlds, the probing of their own sociocultural and geophysical fissures, the opening up of new spaces of experimentation: in short, confronting the home-coming of the kinds of shock and estrangement so often visited upon others. Second, we want to revisit work in critical race, black, and indigenous studies to draw out the geologic and ecologic dimensions of living through deeply rifted realities. Providing a challenge to the question of who does theory, long traditions of critical and resistant black epistemologies have been “finding a Way Out of No Way” within the context of genocide and on-going reproductive violence. In the provisional ground of New Orleans, in the wake of ‘Southern plantation bloc imperialism’ and downriver destination of the Second Middle Passage, through the Great Flood of 1927 and its reterritorialization in Katrina, where we see ‘the old dry bones of both the Freedom Movement and the plantation oligarchy walking again in daylight’ (Woods 2009) in the weather of blues epistemologies, perpetual slave revolutions and maroonage, we invite theorizing in the rifts and resistances of broken Earth.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Kathryn Yusoff Queen Mary University of London 20 1:20 PM
Presenter Stephanie Wakefield*, Eugene Lang College, The Use of Environment, Aesthetics and One’s soul: Back Loop Experimentation 20 1:40 PM
Presenter Celeste Winston*, The Graduate Center, CUNY, Beyond Policing: Lessons from Maroon Geographies 20 2:00 PM
Presenter Nigel Clark*, Lancaster University, The Geology of Race 20 2:20 PM

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