[-empyre-] Introducing Week Four :: Capitalocene Times: from Entangled Plants-People to Cheap Food-Sick Consumers::

margaretha haughwout margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Tue Oct 24 14:36:01 AEDT 2017

Dear -empyre-,

One of the many themes of this week was the nature of our solidarity with
the more-than-human. How do we understand the nature of our relationships,
in revolution, in celebration, grief, and excess? Do we configure weeds as
guides, Immortal Strangers as revenge tutors (as Cassie and Max's
University of the Phoenix does), as re-enchanters who are and have always
been -- "us"?

At Johannes' prompting, we continued to extend our understandings of
cross-species media between and through; Ellie and Chris discuss conceptual
art strategies that create new framing devices, and new ways of knowing and
being with our weedy relatives. Adam urges us to consider that our
inter-species "knowing" is a facet of all of life, and argues that we all,
already know, because we are already not human, and more-than-human.

A heartfelt thank you to this week's discussants (and their microbiomes):
Ellie Irons & Christopher Kennedy of the Environmental Performance Agency,
Max Haiven & Cassie Thornton of The University of the Phoenix, and to Adam

These threads are alive! Not structured by abstracted moon cycles! Please
continue to post to them.


Speaking of re-enchantment, of enlivened relational environments, and
temporality.... Joline Blais, Elaine Gan, Jason W. Moore are Week Four's
discussants, under the title "Capitalocene Times: from Entangled
Plants-People to Cheap Food-Sick Consumers" -- and I for one (?) am totally
enchanted and enlivened by their presence here.

Interestingly, each of our discussants this week have done considerable
work on specific crops: Joline on blueberries -- the stories, and the
matrix of relationships blueberries enable in Northern Maine, Elaine on
rice varietals as technology and "time machine," Jason on the relationship
between sugar and early capitalism. So we can begin by asking whether
specific crop commodities such as sugar, rice, and blueberries teach us
alternate ways of mapping global (sugar), regional (rice), local
(blueberries) economies? And what kinds of temporalities and historical
materialisms are enacted or destroyed by the cultivation of particular
crops (in fact, can we reconcile historical materialism and speculative
futures?). We might also look broadly through these crops and others at how
processes of appropriation and exploitation function together to render
Jason's articulations of Cheap Natures.

There are so many threads we can pull in to this final weave. One is where
we began, a question of systems and entanglements. In Week One we asked how
systems inform a radical aesthetics of multispecies worlding, and where and
how entanglements challenge systems thinking. I'd also like to connect this
question to some of the conversations about interspecies relationality that
came up in Week Three, and (again) ask Jason to outline his term oikeios;
is this concept useful for us here, and can it help us out of some of the
binaries that are so easy to become ensnared in? If so, what kind of
oikeios do we want to create? How can the oikeios help us understand how to
form "revolutionary ecologies of work"?

With warmth and gratitude,


Joline Blais
Joline Blais, Associate Professor of New Media at UMaine, is a mother,
educator, writer, permaculture practitioner, ecovillage founding partner,
competitive rower, avid hiker, and alpine ski coach.  She co-directs Still
Water, and co-founded LongGreenHouse, a “communiversity” project
integrating the Wassokeag K-8 school, UMaine classes, permaculture
practices, and Wabanaki Longhouse traditions. Her subsequent work at the
Belfast Ecovillage spanned 8 years and involved permaculture design, art
projects and workshops, land use governance, restorative justice
facilitation, dynamic governance, non-violent communication and transition
town training, and initial development of food forest orchards, as well as
design, construction and research of a net-zero, solar energy "passive

Her 2006 book At the Edge of Art investigates how new media art puts the
power of networks and distributed creativity into the hands of ordinary
citizens in a variety of non-art contexts. Her other publications and
creative work explore the overlap of digital culture, indigenous culture
and permaculture.  Currently she is working on Wild Difference, a project
to prevent the extinction of Wild Maine blueberries and the local culture
that support them via a lead grant for the development of a physical Wild
Blueberry Museum, and a pending NEH grant to develop the companion online
virtual museum. Her time in the forests, and on and in the water (liquid or
frozen) help maintain her own wild connection to her homeland.

Elaine Gan
Elaine Gan is Mellon Digital Humanities fellow at University of Southern
California and art director of Aarhus University Research on the
Anthropocene (AURA). Raised in the big old cities of Manila and New York,
Gan is an artist and interdisciplinary scholar who studies how human-plant
interactions situate geopolitical histories. Recent projects include
co-editing an anthology, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and
Monsters of the Anthropocene (Minnesota 2017) and co curating an artscience
exhibition, DUMP! Multispecies Making and Unmaking (Kunsthal Aarhus 2015).

Jason W. Moore
Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian and historical geographer at
Binghamton University, where he is associate professor of sociology. He is
author or editor, most recently, of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso,
2015), Capitalocene o Antropocene? (Ombre Corte, 2017), Anthropocene or
Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press,
2016), and, with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things
(University of California Press, 2017). His books and essays on
environmental history, capitalism, and social theory have been widely
recognized, including the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for
Environmental History (2003), the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the
Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (American Sociological
Association, 2002 for articles, and 2015 for Web of Life), and the Byres
and Bernstein Prize in Agrarian Change (2011). He is chair (2017-18) of the
Political Economy of the World-System Section (ASA), and coordinates the
World-Ecology Research Network.
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