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.
The Fog of Meaning and the Voiceless Demos
In a remote outstation, Yilngi Yarrowin identified a thick tubular layer of fog moving around a nearby hill as a tjelbak, a snakelike entity that leaves in its wake the flat, striated layers of fog that soak mosquito nets, blankets, and bodies and that can make life a misery. Chapter 5 argues that tjelbak snakes are one example of the general problem late liberalism faces as geontopower reveals its operation. How are existents like tjelbak being incorporated into the “conversation” about the destiny of other planetary existents—and the planet as an existent? How can we consider them the dissensus within the consensus of the late liberal geontopower? Can a set of literatures seemingly oriented to disruptions of the consensual background support entities such as tjelbak snakes as they enter and confront the logos of late liberal biontologies? Is the nature of the dissensus of Two Women Sitting Down and tjelbak snakes apprehensible through the dialectic of phonos and logos, noise and linguistic sense, muteness and voice? Or are other semiotically mediated and unmediated sensoria able to disturb the policing of the political order? We seem to be hearing something other than logos as the disorganizing principle of a postclimate politics: “I can’t breathe.”