2013, Fri, Jan 11

Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism

Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Keynote by Elizabeth A. Povinelli (Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, New York). Introduction and talk: Ethel Matala de Mazza (Institut für deutsche Literatur, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin)


Much critical theory has attempted to think life outside of the “human,” yet most applications of the Anthropocene have focused on how humanity might find a way to keep its way of life without loosing the “human.” Is the Anthropocene, then, a framework for humanizing or environmentalizing capitalism without losing capitalism? Departing from the premise that Western political theory is rooted in the carbon cycle, where life is seen as a metabolic ring of growth, reproduction and degeneration, Povinelli tackles the “carbon imaginary” of biopolitics. She considers the diverse local arrangements of “life” in relation to the technological procedures of maintenance and renewal. What forms of being are privileged to lay claim to life or to preserve the earth’s being-processes?



Ethel Matala de Mazza (Berlin) studied German literature, philosophy, linguistics, and art history in Bochum, Paris, and Munich, and is a professor at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin. Her research focuses on the literary and theoretical history of the political imaginary and the mutual relations between law and literature as well as questions of cultural theory.


Elizabeth A. Povinelli (New York) is professor of anthropology and gender studies at Columbia University. Her research seeks to produce a critical theory of late liberalism. She is the author of four books, the latest one being "Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism" (2011). "The Cunning of Recognition" (2011). "Karrabing-Low Tide Turning", a film she co-directed with Liza Johnson, was selected for the Berlinale Shorts Competition in 2012.


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