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From the Anthropocene to the ‘Plantationocene’: Exploring and defying plantation ecologies, replenishing multi-species worlds

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Organizers: Catherine Windey, Jean-Francois Bissonnette
Chairs: Jean-Francois Bissonnette


Session organizers: Vijay Kolinjivadi (University of Antwerp), Catherine Windey (University of Antwerp), Jean-François Bissonnette (Université Laval)

Over the last decade, the notion of the Anthropocene has come under fierce critique among social scientists, indigenous scholars, and political geographers alike for its unproblematic attribution of a particular mode of physical transformation to all of humanity (Malm and Hornborg, 2014; Haraway, 2015; Todd, 2015; Ellis et al., 2016; Moore, 2016; Castree, 2017; Pulido, 2018; Bonneuil et Fressoz 2013). In particular, this has meant disentangling “humanity” from Euro-centric imperialism, modernization and capitalism, and its violent modus operandi of dispossession of indigenous, black and brown bodies and land. While some have preferred to more aptly conceptualizing the current area as the Capitalocene (e.g. Moore, 2016) or the Chuthulucene (Haraway, 2016), this session aims at exploring and interrogating the underlying drivers of what Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing (2019) call the ‘Plantationocene’ to advance non-binary conceptions of culture-nature relationships.

Distinguishable from the other ‘cenes’, the “Plantationocene” identifies a common root to the inter-relationships between climate change, ecological collapse, capitalism, systemic racism/white supremacy, labour relations, and growing inequality. It emphasizes the disciplining logics that have characterized the history of racialized human labour and ecological complexity of plantation agriculture: homogeneity, predictability, calculability, and control (Ritzer, 1998, Haraway, 2015). For Tsing (2015), plantation logics refer to the efficiency by which the plantation expands in replicating an idealized blueprint modelled on the characteristics of often theoretically-presumed and controlled conditions of the motherland (e.g. global North). For McKittrick (2013), the capacity to substitute racialized labouring bodies and non-human natures as factors of plantation production is in need of paramount consideration. In this sense, we understand the plantation logic as originating from the central western thought of gendered and racialized reason/nature “hyperseparation” that creates hierarchies of superiority and control between linked up dualistic structures: culture over nature, mind over matter, men over women, master over colonized (Plumwood, 1993; Bird Rose, 2011). Plantation logics are thus not limited only to the physical transformation of the earth in the appropriation of human and non-human “resources”, but also to the ordering of the world that polarizes and hierarchizes people along class, racial, gender, and sexual-orientation lines; one that is geared towards faster and more efficient export (of ideas, of products, of experiences), and an intense regulation of human cognition and behaviour (Davis et al., 2019).

Yet, attempts to carry out plantation logics often fail in the face of continual emergence of multi-species unfoldings, the unpredictable and continuous emergence of relationships rooted in connectivity, care and resistance, even as such unfoldings (also) might serve as new ways for plantation logics to maintain their hegemony and reassert their control and seeming all-pervasiveness (Aldeia and Alves, 2019). It is increasingly crucial to identify ways in which multispecies flourishing takes place, in spite of the violence of simplified landscapes and disconnected communities, and the potential this provides for furthering alternative futures. We therefore aim to bring together a collection of presentations that explore the theoretical and empirical basis of plantation ecologies and ways by which alternative ecologies emerge and are sustained even within the realm of the plantation. We invite contributions of diverse multimedia platforms that consider but are not limited to the following:

• Contingent and historically-situated examples of the ongoing history of plantation logics in radically transforming spatial and temporal relationships of human-nature entanglements, from the history of agriculture in colonized lands, tourism, biodiversity conservation, cheap labour, the “green economy, to the academic ‘production’ of knowledge;
• Distinguishing and articulating overlaps between the plantation discipline of racialized human bodies for labour from systems of extractive domination (e.g. wage labour);
• Considering the multiple ways in which non-humans intervene in plantation systems (e.g. “pests”)
• Empirical investigations into unruly relationalities in non-humans and humans alike and their intersections, which do not easily conform to theorized identities or objectified relations within the plantation;
• Defiance to the plantation logics through “irrational” acts of care, joy, love, reciprocity, empathy- as the conditions to reinstate life- which cannot be rationalized, are at once rooted in defiance, resistance, and/or rage and are dedicated to life’s becoming into connectivity;
• Explorations of the cognitive, epistemic, philosophical and historical roots of the plantation logic, and of their continuous reproduction through bio-/body- political techniques and cognitive technologies;
• Limits to the Plantationocene concept: theoretical contributions on how far it takes us; pitfalls to avoid, and future research agendas.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to both and by 28 October 2019.

Participants will be notified by October 29, 2019 if their abstract has been accepted. All accepted contributors will then need to register individually for the conference by October 30, 2019 and provide their AAG PIN (Personal Identification Number, obtained after registration for the conference) to the organisers in order to be included in the session.
Feel free to contact us should you have any questions or ideas about this session.


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Castree, N. (2017). Anthropocene : Social science misconstrued. Nature 541, 289.
Davis, J., Moulton, A.A., Van Sant, L., & Williams, B. (2019). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, … Plantationocene?: A Manifesto for Ecological Justice in an Age of Global Crises. Geography Compass. doi: 10.1111/gec3.12438.
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Pulido, L. (2018). Racism and the Anthropocene. In: G. Mitman, M. Armiero, & R. Emmett (Eds.), Future remains: A cabinet of curiosities for the Anthropocene (pp. 116-128). Chicago; University of Chicago Press.
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Todd, Z. (2015). Indigenizing the Anthropocene. Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies, 241-254.
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Whyte, K.P. (2018). Indigenous science (fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral dystopias and fantasies of climate change crises. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1(2-12), 224-242.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Yi-Ting Zhang*, National Taiwan University, Shiuh-Shen Chien, National Taiwan University, Forming alliance with the wind: the atmospheric thinking in the industrial siege 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Christian Keeve*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Keeping Seeds: The poetics of fugitivity 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Alder Keleman Saxena*, Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, Layers, Patches, and Potatoes: On the Emergence of Feral Agroecologies in the Bolivian Andes 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Jean-Francois Bissonnette*, Universite Laval, Authoritarian by design: situating debates on large-scale agribusiness in the Plantationocene 15 12:00 AM

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