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[Paris • France]

 

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

 

Elisabeth Povinelli is professor in anthropology at Columbia University (New York). Her writing has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. Informed primarily by the traditions of American pragmatism and continental immanent theory and grounded in the circulation of values, materialities, and socialities. This potential theory has unfolded primarily from within a sustained relationship with Indigenous colleagues in north Australia and across five books, numerous essays, and four films with the Karrabing Film Collective. Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism was the 2017 recipient of the Lionel Trilling Book Award. Karrabing films were awarded the 2015 Visible Award and the 2015 Cinema Nova Award Best Short Fiction Film, Melbourne International Film Festival and have shown internationally including in the Berlinale Forum Expanded, Sydney Biennale; MIFF, the Tate Modern, documenta-14, and the Contour Biennale.

Conférence enregistré dans le cadre d'une série de rencontres avec Elizabeth Povinelli, organisé par Université Paris 1 – Ecole des arts de la Sorbonne. Enregistré le 6 mars 2018 à Paris 1 – Ecole des arts de la Sorbonne