A date with destiny: racial capitalism and the beginnings of the Anthropocene

Session #6 of Race in Film and Philosophy

Location: BG1 0.16, Turfdraagsterpad 9  | Time: May 3, 15.00-18.00

In this seminar we will discuss some key ways the Anthropocene is inexorably racial. The capitalist system  requires racializing populations and environments from early modernity to the present and into the future.  The focus will be on investigating whether it makes sense to take the European discovery of the Americas and the genocide against its original inhabitants as threshold of a new geological epoch. Comparing the radicalization of Marx in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari with some recent work in critical race studies, we will suggest that though colonization and slavery were essential for modern globalization to emerge, capital could only embark on its self-perpetuating trajectory through the industrial revolution and mass consumption.


  • Christina Sharpe (2016). “The wake”, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, Duke UP
  • Françoise Vergès (2017). “Racial Anthropocene”, in Futures of Black Radicalism eds Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin. London, Verso

Arun Saldanha (to be resubmitted). “A date with destiny: racial capitalism and the beginnings of the Anthropocene”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, special issue “Race and the Anthropocene”, eds. Bruce Erickson and Andrew Baldwin

Optional watching (a quick mainstream intro if you’re totally new to the Anthropocene concept)
The Smithsonian, “What is the Anthropocene?”
(surprising erratum – If modern humans evolved some 200,000 years ago that’s only 0.00004% of Earth’s history not 0.01%)


Arun Saldanha is Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. He is author of Space After Deleuze (Bloomsbury 2017) and Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race (Minnesota 2007), and coeditor of Deleuze and Race (Edinburgh 2013), and Sexual Difference Between Psychoanalysis and Vitalism (Routledge 2013), and Geographies of Race and Food: Fields Bodies Markets (Ashgate 2013). As NWO-funded Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University he is working on a theoretical book blending geohumanities, Marxism, and evolutionary theory to rethink race as planetary process. Arun organized a symposium called “Prince from Minneapolis” last year and is preparing an edited collection on the event.