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Genres of Climate Violence

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Organizer: Joshua Clover

Co-Organizer: Anahid Nersessian

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Despite the conventional association of “green” activism with pacific political action, and of climate policy with at most something like “slow violence,” the last year has made visible the more intensive and accelerated character of what this seminar calls climate violence. From the gilets jaunes riots in France to the emerging affinity between white nationalism and ecofascism to the ongoing instauration of border regimes that pit ethnonationalism against an ineluctably rising current of climate refugees, the confrontational politics of climate are certain to be an ever more central feature of global ecological economies. 

As this brief summary suggests, climate violence belongs to no single alignment or ideology, and may indeed be up for grabs, to be seized by capital, the state, the populist mob, the party, the revolution. Most salient about France’s climate riots, for example, are the ways in which they expose the state’s attempt to weaponize sustainability and to offload its costs, thereby assuring a violent counterstruggle. 

Our wager is that the climate violence which has flourished so spectacularly of late is in truth a longstanding and ongoing phenomenon which might destabilize received accounts of the temporalities, affects, and political economies of ecological crisis—and that it can be (and has been) thought, among other ways, through cultural capacities for inquiry, formal and otherwise. We invite participants to consider climate violence as a historical phenomenon that enlarges our understanding of how the social mediation of nature (broadly conceived) is involved in the restructuring of class and class struggle, with the awareness that the divergence between the end of capitalism and the end of the world, starker by the hour, has been with us for centuries. We particularly invite scholars considering these matters from below, and from standpoints beyond that of hegemon and imperial centers.


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