Tuesday March 6th – 18h–20h Ecole des Arts de la Sorbonne – salle 251
“The Return of the World”
Pivoted between Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition and a group of mermaids in a recent Karrabing Film Collective work, “The Return of the World” begins a discussion of the toxic earth by distinguishing among a whole earth, gaia (gr. life; female progenitor of life), and autonomous worlds. How does toxicity give lie to all three? The term “return” in the lecture title might suggest something that was once part of western theory was left behind or lost but has now come back as if a prodigal son. But what is returning, what never left, and where? What if the mermaids never vanished with the assault of colonizing modern, nor returned because of rationality’s disenchantment? What if the mermaids have continued to move across the landscape even as the specificities of their journeys were altered by the toxic actions of colonialism, industrialism, and their value extractions? In other words, how do the imagines of the whole earth, autonomous worlds, and gaia cover over as much as they reveal about large segments of existence which were never enchanted or disenchanted rather, as the African American filmmaker, Charles Burnett, put it in relation to his film The Killer of Sheep, fighting to preserve and endure in a constantly altering terrain of toxic racism and settler colonialism.
Attention! This lecture will take place at:
Ecole des Arts de la Sorbonne
47 rue des Bergers 75015 Paris
Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University where she has also been the Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Law and Culture. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Yale University in 1991. She is the author of numerous books and essays as well as a former editor of the academic journal Public Culture.