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.



Asbestos Towns

ASCA Cities Public Talk by Dr. Arthur Rose (University of Bristol) | Friday 17 May, 15.00 – 17.00 hrs., room 101A, Universiteitstheater (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18)

In this talk, I want to introduce, by way of Patrick Chaimoiseau’s Martinquean epic, Texaco (1992), the ‘asbestos town’: an identification that allows us to consider how asbestos develops, through its involvement in habitation, a strange and complicated relation to community, ecology and environmental toxicity. ‘Asbestos town’ is a term that should be understood dialectically. While it might refer to communities from asbestos mining towns, it might also refer to communities whose involvement with asbestos is less obvious. In the first instance, these single resource towns often prefer decontamination procedures to the dissolution of the community: the needs of the community, to form itself as a community, are often balanced against the risks from asbestos. However, in contexts where asbestos is brought into the home in unexpected ways (either in the construction of the home or through unsuspecting work practices), there is frequently no immediate community with whom to develop meaningful solidarity. My talk turns around those ways in which “asbestos towns”, in this second, less obvious way, come to shape a particular consciousness of asbestos in the built environment. Since I am a literary scholar, my attention will often turn to works of fiction that consider asbestos in the home, whether as a construction material (as in Chaimoiseau’s Texaco) or as a trace of work (Lionel Shriver’s So Much For That), to think about how asbestos features within homes (the asbestos heater in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy), of homes (asbestos roofs in Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning and The Stone Virgins) and surrounding homes (the asbestos environment of Ken Yates’ Dust). But the consequence of these fictions permits a more general insight into the role asbestos plays in infrastructures across the built environment: a failed modernist project to protect individuals from harm in the home.


  • Gregson, Nicky, Helen Watkins and Melania Calestani. Inextinguishable Fibres: Demolition and the Vital Materialisms of Asbestos. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 42.5 (2010): 1065-1083.
  • Abeysundara, Yasantha, Sandhya Babel, and Shabbir Gheewala. A Matrix in Life Cycle Perspective for Selecting Sustainable Materials for Buildings in Sri Lanka. Building and Environment 44.5 (2009): 997-1004.
  • Rose, Arthur. In the Wake of Asbestos: Ship-building and Ship-breaking in Ross Raisin’s Waterline and Tahmina Anam’s The Bones of Grace. Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 49.4: 139-158.

Readings available by emailing:

j.diamanti@uva.nl , C.J.Birdsall@uva.nl , A.S.Kalkman@uva.nl  or k.m.mika@uva.nl


Decomposition and Deformation: Literature, Film, Philosoph

Double Lecture: Eugenie Brinkema (MIT) and Julius Greve (University of Oldenburg)

Lecture Series in Media | Arts | Politics. Convened by Pepita Hesselberth, Yasco Horsman (Film and Literary Studies, Leiden University), Monday May 6,  15.00-17.30, Eyckhof 1 / 003C / Leiden University

On Monday May 6, Professor Eugenie Brinkema of MIT and UvA and Dr. Julius Greve of the University of Oldenburg will present paired lectures—one focusing on literature and one focusing on film—exploring decomposition, decay, deformation, and plasticity in relation to torture, geotrauma, aesthetic form, and ethics.

Professor Brinkema’s lecture, “The Fascinations of Violence: Martyrs and the Ethics of Deformation,” focuses on Pascal Laugier’s 2008 new-extremist horror film Martyrs, arguing that the film generates a formal violence that is coextensive with the very aesthetic fascinations that structure it, rendering an account of violence that is monstrative and creative, cinematically demonstrating not the violation of body but the impersonal, non-embodied violence of a fascination with formal possibility, one shared by horror and metaphysical philosophy.

Dr. Greve’s lecture, “Geotrauma and Narrative Form: Decomposing Nature in Cormac McCarthy’s Early Fiction,” asks: How to rethink trauma in the context of today’s turn to the question concerning materiality in the humanities? What is the role of narrative form in the delineation of concepts of nature that resonate with, but are partially independent of, those forged in and by philosophical discourse? How to come to terms with the difference between decomposition as a literary theme, on the one hand, and decay as a process in and by fiction? Dr. Greve traces the concept of nature in the early work of American writer Cormac McCarthy, as it is construed by literary rather than philosophical means, rendering visible a transhistorical and transatlantic constellation, including schools of thought such as Schellingianism and speculative realism.

Eugenie Brinkema is Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature and Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently a fellow in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her research in film and media studies focuses on violence, affect, sexuality, aesthetics, and ethics in texts ranging from the horror film to gonzo pornography, from structuralist film to the visual and temporal forms of terrorism. Her articles have appeared in the journals Angelaki, Camera Obscura, Criticism, differences, Discourse, film-philosophy, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, qui parle, and World Picture. Recent work includes articles on irrumation and the interrogatory in violent pornography and the formal affectivity of no longer being loved in Blue is the Warmest Color. Her first book, The Forms of the Affects, was published with Duke University Press in 2014.

Julius Greve is a lecturer and research associate at the Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany. He is the author of Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature (Dartmouth College Press, 2018), and of numerous articles on McCarthy, Mark Z. Danielewski, critical theory, and speculative realism. Greve has co-edited America and the Musical Unconscious (Atropos, 2015), Superpositions: Laruelle and the Humanities (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017), and “Cormac McCarthy Between Worlds” (2017), a special issue of EJAS: European Journal of American Studies. He is currently working on two edited volumes that deal with weird fiction, media studies, and cultural ecology, and is working on a manuscript on the relation between modern poetics and ventriloquism.

ASCA Workshop 2019: Realities and Fantasies: Relations, Transformations, Discontinuities

ASCA Workshop 2019:

Realities and Fantasies: Relations, Transformations, Discontinuities

10-12 April 2019, University of Amsterdam

Organized by Divya Nadkarni, Alex Thinius, and Nadia de Vries


Keynote speakers:

Keynote lectures:

  • Jonathan Culler (Cornell University): Fantasizing Narrators for Novels and Speakers for Poems
  • Annabelle Dufourcq (RU Nijmegen): Do we have to be Realistic? The imaginary dimension of the real: a phenomenological approach to imagination, images and the imaginary field.
  • Nkiru Nzegwu (SUNY Binghamton): Dancing the In-Between: The Immense Power of Madness
  • Susanna Paasonen (University of Turku): Thinking Sex, Thinking Play

What are the contemporary ways in which reality and fantasy relate, how do they contrast, and how, under what conditions, can one transform into the other? In the workshop, artists and scholars from a range of approaches, cases, and places, discuss the kinship between realities and fantasies and its contemporary use. Papers focus on love and desire in the time of tinder, AI, authenticity, narrative selves, enactment, transliminality, futurism, utopism, nationalisms, absurdity, oppressive regimes, trauma, ‘grotesque’ bodies, animal sanctuaries, magical realism, sound, intentionality, discovery between arts and science, and the normative use of art and literature. Next to paper presentations, there is an exhibition and a workshop performance.

Keynote lectures will take place in Doelenzaal, Singel 425, the concluding keynote panel will be in the VOC zaal, Bushuis. Everyone is welcome to the keynotes and panels. If you would like to receive the texts of the panels in advance, please write to realitiesfantasies2019@gmail.com. For more details on the program, venues, and the keynote lectures, please visit https://realitiesfantasies.wordpress.com/.

Against the Grain: The Ethics, Poetics and Politics of Contrarian Speech

Symposium at the University of Amsterdam, 5th – 7th June 2019 | Keynote speakers: Sarah Clancy, Jim Hicks, Frank Keizer | Deadline for proposals: 15th April 2019 | Dates: The event will commence in the late afternoon of 5th June and end by early afternoon of 7th June | A collaboration of ‘Contemporary Poetry and Politics’ (FFI2016-77584-P), The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, The Amsterdam Center for Globalization Studies, and the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis. | Organizers: Cornelia Gräbner (Lancaster University), Joost de Bloois (University of Amsterdam).

Contrarianism gains momentum whenever a hegemony consolidates itself to such an extent that there is no longer space for the possibility of alternatives. The aims and the character of contrarian movements show themselves through the interplay of ethics, politics and poetics in concrete examples of contrarian speech and contrarian practices. With the symposium ‘Against the Grain: The Ethics, Poetics and Politics of Contrarian Speech’ we open up a space for the analytical exploration of this interplay, and for a sharing of practices that oppose both the status quo of corporatism and neoliberalization, and the contrarian movements  appropriating ‘free speech’ from the populist right, the alt-right, and neo-fascism.

Contrarianism can be a mode of getting to know the opponent from a committed position or perspective and, through this analytical practice, can produce dissident knowledges. Contrarianism can be a form of expression; in the face of a stifling hegemony, its poetics can nurture desires and open up new horizons. Contrarian practice can take many forms, among them opposition, resistance, dissent, non-cooperation, contestation, subversion, or sabotage. It can be practiced from within a system, from its margins, or from an outsider position. Today, contrarianism is also weaponized as a rhetorical strategy by political movements that seek to consolidate or radicalize existing power structures (be it regarding class, gender or race), or obfuscate their ruthless pursuit of their economic interests. The contrarian defiance of supposed ‘political correctness’ and the left-liberal ‘elite’ in no small measure has contributed to the success of such movements. This symposium, a collaboration between the research project ‘Contemporary Poetry and Politics’ (FFI2016-77584-P) and the University of Amsterdam, approaches contrarian speech by bringing together the poetic and the analytical, ethics and politics.

We specifically (but not exclusively) invite attention to the interplay of poetic and political sensibilities with discourses and practices of contrarian speech in the discussion of five thematic areas:

  • Dissent, Disobedience and Free Speech: We invite contributions that explore the notion of ‘free speech’ in contexts where free speech is turned into a means of pacification, or where it is weaponized against minorities or by economic elites against imagined cultural elites. What does ‘contrarian speech’ mean in such contexts, how might its boundaries be defined and set?
  • Austerity and Precarity: In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis and the subsequent ‘austerity’ measures that have been rolled out all over Europe, class differences and socio-economic precarity have increased substantially. Tremendous social suffering has been inflicted, and structural violence against vulnerable populations has been escalated, and the TINA (There Is No Alternative) ideology has strangulated the political imagination. The emergence of movements such as ‘Occupy, the Indignados or Nuit Debout indicates increasing resistance to neoliberal TINA (There Is No Alternative) ideology. We invite explorations of social justice and opposition to class privilege, contrarianism and right-wing populism, and even the alt-right and extreme right.
  • Crisis: Hand-in-hand with the creation and perpetuation of social and political crisis comes the resurgence of discourses of security which appropriate and manipulate fear. We invite critical analyses of such discourses, and the role of contrarian speech in opposing these, whereby the analyses account for the consequences of social injustice, legal and political surveillance, and precarization.
  • Ecocriticism and Infrastructure: We invite engagements with the ideologies of progress and modernity, with the practice of corporate power and the ideology of corporatism, with the ways in which infrastructures embed habituation and complacency into everyday life and perception, and with the expressions, practices and ecocritical approaches that go contrarian to it.
  • Creative Criticism: This practice of knowledge and of writing goes contrarian to the ever more stringent, restrictive, constraining, disciplinarian and secretly ideological practices of academic writing that are being imposed on academics. Creative criticism gets to know its opponent progressively and, while opposing and subverting them, creates ‘Other’ writing practices that subvert the binary of creativity and criticism and create space for dissident knowledges.
  • Anti-Fascism, the Alt-Right, and Right-Wing Populism: Anti-fascist movements and anti-fascist artists and cultural organizers have always had to go against two opponents at the same time: the right-wing, populist and /or fascist movements and individuals that go contrarian to the status quo, and to a status quo that is often marked by social injustice, that is usually hostile to anti-fascists and often, tolerant of fascist and right-wing populist movements. We invite explorations of such doubly contrarian practices and explorations, as well as of the ways in which fascist movements, the Alt-Right and right-wing populism pose as contrarian to the status quo.

Contributions may cover (but are not limited to):

  • Contemporary political movements/events
  • Contemporary political art (i.e. poetry, literature, visual art, cinema)
  • Media representations of contrarian speech
  • Cultural/artistic representations of crisis/precarity/austerity
  • Ecocritical dissidence
  • Contrarianism,  hegemony and conjuncture
  • Far-right discourse on/as contrarianism
  • Free speech, sexism and heteronormativity (i.e. online sexism and heteronormativity)
  • Media representations of ‘free speech’
  • Free speech, contrarianism and the construction/limits of the public sphere
  •  ‘Contrarian’ and ‘free speech’ as political trope
  • Contrarianism as Foucauldian parreisia
  • Contrarianism, dissent and social media
  • Contrarianism and/as privilege
  • Contrarianism as noise
  • Class and contrarianism (i.e. class analysis, class struggle as contrarianism)
  • Artistic and philosophical/theoretical responses to free speech controversies
  • Contrarianism/free speech and anti-terrorism (i.e. Erri de Luca’s work, the ‘Tarnac affair’)
  • Free speech and racialized exclusion
  • Contrarianism and sabotage
  • Free speech, surveillance and contemporary governmentality
  • Artistic and creative practices of ‘contrarianism’
  • Poetry and crisis
  • Assembly as contrarian practice (i.e. Nuit debout, Occupy)
  • Contrarianism as ethics
  • Contrarianism as crisis discourse (i.e. ecocritical voices, eco-politics, movements concerning climate change/extinction)
  • Contrarianism and gender formation (i.e. on social media forums)
  • Contrarianism and negativity
  • Contrarianism as ethics of refusal and inoperativity
  • Contrarianism as affirmative ethics/politics
  • Contrarianism as -ism

To submit a proposal please send a title, an abstract of 250 words and a short biography of 100 words by 15th April to dinolipoe@gmail.com