Environmental Humanities, 9(2): Familiarizing the Extraterrestrial / Making Our Planet Alien (2017)

26 April 2018, dusan

“A growing number of researchers in the social sciences and the environmental humanities have begun to focus on the wider universe and how it is apprehended by modern cosmology. Today the extraterrestrial has become part of the remit of anthropologists, philosophers, historians, geographers, scholars in science and technology studies, and artistic researchers, among others. And there is an emerging consensus that astronomers and other natural scientists—contrary to a common prejudice—are never simply depicting or describing the cosmos “just as it is.” Their research is always characterized by a specific aesthetic style and by a particular “cosmic imagination,” as some have called it. Scientific knowledge of the universe is based on skilled judgments rather than on direct, unmediated perception. It is science, but it is also an art. This special section focuses on two at first sight contradictory aspects of this cosmic imagination. On the one hand, there is a distinctive move toward viewing the extraterrestrial in familiar terms and comprehending it by means of conceptual frameworks that we, earthlings, are accustomed to. On the other hand, there is a tendency to understand our own planet in unfamiliar terms, especially in astrobiology, where so-called analog sites and “extreme environments” provide clues about alien planets.”

Special section edited by Istvan Praet and Juan Francisco Salazar
Publisher Duke University Press, November 2017
Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
ISSN 2201‐1919
pages 300-455

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Elizabeth A. Povinelli: Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016)

1 January 2018, dusan

“In Geontologies Elizabeth A. Povinelli continues her project of mapping the current conditions of late liberalism by offering a bold retheorization of power. Finding Foucauldian biopolitics unable to adequately reveal contemporary mechanisms of power and governance, Povinelli describes a mode of power she calls geontopower, which operates through the regulation of the distinction between Life and Nonlife and the figures of the Desert, the Animist, and the Virus. Geontologies examines this formation of power from the perspective of Indigenous Australian maneuvers against the settler state. And it probes how our contemporary critical languages—anthropogenic climate change, plasticity, new materialism, antinormativity—often unwittingly transform their struggles against geontopower into a deeper entwinement within it. A woman who became a river, a snakelike entity who spawns the fog, plesiosaurus fossils and vast networks of rock weirs: in asking how these different forms of existence refuse incorporation into the vocabularies of Western theory Povinelli provides a revelatory new way to understand a form of power long self-evident in certain regimes of settler late liberalism but now becoming visible much further beyond.”

Publisher Duke University Press, 2016
ISBN 9780822362111, 0822362112
xii+218 pages

Reviews: Shela Sheikh (Avery Review, 2017), Robin Wright (Society+Space, 2017), Timothy Neale (2017).

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Alexander G. Weheliye: Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (2014)

11 November 2017, dusan

Habeas Viscus focuses attention on the centrality of race to notions of the human. Alexander G. Weheliye develops a theory of ‘racializing assemblages,’ taking race as a set of sociopolitical processes that discipline humanity into full humans, not-quite-humans, and nonhumans. This disciplining, while not biological per se, frequently depends on anchoring political hierarchies in human flesh. The work of the black feminist scholars Hortense Spillers and Sylvia Wynter is vital to Weheliye’s argument. Particularly significant are their contributions to the intellectual project of black studies vis-à-vis racialization and the category of the human in western modernity. Wynter and Spillers configure black studies as an endeavor to disrupt the governing conception of humanity as synonymous with white, western man. Weheliye posits black feminist theories of modern humanity as useful correctives to the ‘bare life and biopolitics discourse’ exemplified by the works of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault, which, Weheliye contends, vastly underestimate the conceptual and political significance of race in constructions of the human. Habeas Viscus reveals the pressing need to make the insights of black studies and black feminism foundational to the study of modern humanity.”

Publisher Duke University Press, Durham, 2014
ISBN 9780822356912, 0822356910
x+209 pages

Reviews: Ashon Crawley (LARB, 2015), Marianna Szczygielska (Parallax, 2015), Aditi Surie von Czechowski (Comp Stud South Asia, Africa and Middle East, 2015), Marianela Munoz and Charles Holm (Afro-Paradise, 2015), Megan H. Glick (Hypatia Rev, 2015), Shelleen Greene (Somatechnics, 2016), Amber Jamilla Musser (philoSOPHIA, 2016), Gabriela Radulescu (Allegra Lab, 2016), Ander Mendiguren Nebreda (Athenea Digital, 2017, ES).

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