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

Elaine Gan eganuc at gmail.com
Wed Oct 25 07:26:34 AEDT 2017

Thanks so much, Margaretha, for bringing discussions together! It's been
exciting to hear so many commitments, approaches to radical aesthetics and
multispecies worldings. Very much looking forward to exploring
"Capitalocene Times" with Joline and Jason, and hope many will feel free to
chime in.

Much of my own work in the past few years has focused on rice. To take "it"
seriously involves recognizing that "it" is always and already multiple:
grass, food crop, code, companion species, currency, hope, crisis, dump.
It's a more-than-human relation that materializes through contingent
encounters. To describe rice, I needed to really start thinking about
temporalities --not only timescales of long and short, geos-bios-anthropos,
speeds of fast and slow. But temporalities that are made in relation.
Following postwar miracle rice, for example, involved thinking about
differences in acceleration and reproduction cycles. Following deepwater
rice in the Mekong involved thinking about synchrony and asynchrony. And
the relationalities include vegetal, animal, fungal, chemical, etc. Lots of
natureculture times.

I wonder if I might throw a couple of questions into our hat:

first, if I can interest Jason and Joline: how might you describe the
temporalities of wild blueberries, and sugar or sugar cane plantations?
What is the temporality of "cheap" and how does it interact with the
temporality of "wild", "feral", or the lifemaking pulse of "oikeios"?

and, a more open question: how might we map or visualize the Capitalocene
(or Anthropocene, Plantationcene, Chthulucene, etc)  as it unfolds across
speeds and scales? I'd love to hear what the empyre group is finding
intriguing lately --or historically. For a few years, my friend Michelle
Bastian <http://www.michellebastian.net/> and I have been in conversation
about more-than-human social times. She is currently on leave but has
kindly agreed to share this fun piece she wrote (attached) about imagining
other possible futures through clocks. I also have been working with
amazing collaborators, Sarah Lookofsky and Steve Lam. We co-curated an
exhibition entitled "DUMP! Multispecies Making and Unmaking
<http://elainegan.com/dump.html>" (2015) to engage an array of creative and
critical practices that think across the nature-culture divide. And we are
always negotiating what is the "work of art" and how/what/for whom it
mobilizes worlds otherwise.



On Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 8:36 PM, margaretha haughwout <
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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
> Zaretsky.
> 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,
> -M
> --
> 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
> haus."
> 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).
> http://elainegan.com
> 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.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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