Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism
Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University and the author of, most recently, Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism, also published by Duke University Press.
Can Rocks Die?: Life and Death inside the Carbon Imaginary
Chapter 2 begins with a discussion of a court case in Northern Australia: a desecration lawsuit that the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority brought against om Manganese Ltd., a subsidiary of om Holding, for deliberately damaging an Indigenous sacred site, Two Women Sitting Down, at its Bootu Creek manganese mine. The fight over the meaning and significance of the damaging of Two Women Sitting Down is used in two ways. On the one hand, it provides an excellent example of why a growing number of geologists and climate experts are urgently calling for new dialogue among natural sciences, the social sciences, the philosophies, and the humanities and arts. On the other hand, the lawsuit also shows how the common frameworks, or attitudes, anxieties, and desires, toward the lively and the inert have been preserved across this separation and specialization. The main body of the chapter explores the common space between natural life, focused on birth, growth/reproduction, and death, and critical life, focused on the event, conatus/affectus, and finitude. And it suggests how this agreement between natural life and critical life narrows the possible politics of posthuman existences.