The GSD is pleased to present a series of talks and webinars broadcast to our audiences via Zoom.
This talk addresses how natural resources are the dominant and normative modality of matter, one that is predicated on and institutionalizes racialized relations. Two stratal relations deployed in the making of natural resources in the U.S. are addressed. First, the stratigraphic imagination of race in Louis Agassiz’s geographic race maps and portraits of the enslaved, alongside his scientific and political claims about polygenesis, plantations and the enduring legacy of racial difference. The second strata examines a convict lease prison mine in Birmingham, Alabama, which helped build the ‘Magic City’ and floated U.S. Steel on the stock exchange. This example of the carceral form of ‘natural resources’ and the undergrounding of black life during and after Reconstruction built the white surfaces of Modernity, enacting the stratigraphic imagination of racial difference as surface and mine. I consider both these accounts of materiality as affective infrastructures of White Geology that point to broader sites in the racializing geo-logics of natural resources and the decolonizing of matter. Within the talk I will address questions of material memory and redress, alongside the weaponization of geology through natural resources as an affectual architecture of racializing difference.
Kathryn Yusoff is Professor of Inhuman Geography in the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road E1 4NS, U.K. Most recently, she is author of A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, Minneapolis (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), a SI on “Geosocial Formations and the Anthropocene” (with Nigel Clark) in Theory Culture and Society, “Epochal Aesthetics” in E-flux, and Geologic Life: Inhuman Intimacies and the Geophysics of Race (forthcoming). Yusoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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