Geology is a praxis of materiality and thought in the genealogy of Western metaphysics and racial capitalism and a site of possession in the Anthropocene. In the context of renewed interest in the inhuman, this article uses the analytic of geologic realism to navigate between the category of the inhuman as earth and the inhuman as race. Geology delivers two kinds of realism: a realism of racialized substrata labeled inhuman that was the subjective resource for extraction and resistance, and a realism that was an epistemic-ontological confrontation with the history of dynamic Earth events and beings in time. Geologic realism is argued as an analytic to understand the entwinement and emergence of (a) normative modes of approaching matter forged through the histories and temporalities of colonial power in material and metaphysical orders; (b) the realism of quotidian experience by black and indigenous peoples in the shadow of the imposition of colonial power; and (c) a shared political present of planetary shifts related to colonial configurations of time and matter. Three Anthropocenic subject positions in relation to the inhuman are discussed through aesthetic encounters on the lithic contact zone of the beach: humanism (Planet of the Apes), speculative realism (“The Terminal Beach”), and black feminist futurity (Daughters of the Dust). Considering the double life of the inhuman as earth and race, the author argues for a reckoning with black and indigenous geologic archives to disrupt claims on materiality and knowledge that organize toward a mastery of matter.
Geologic Realism: On the Beach of Geologic Time
Kathryn Yusoff is professor of inhuman geography at Queen Mary University of London. She recently completed A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (2018), which addresses the raciality of matter. She is completing another book titled Geologic Life about the politics of nonlife and the history of geologic grammars.
Kathryn Yusoff; Geologic Realism: On the Beach of Geologic Time. Social Text 1 March 2019; 37 (1 (138)): 1–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7286240
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