Geology, Power, and the Planetary

Jerome Whitington, Zeynep Oguz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

What conditions of possibility have emerged for learning to live on a new earth? This special section builds on scholarship in the environmental humanities, critical Black studies, and geophilosophy to explore how emergent ways of becoming human are forged in relation to powerful earth dynamics, even while earth’s powers are constitutive of contemporary forms of domination. Geologizing Sylvia Wynter’s understanding of being human as a praxis, it proposes that earth as praxis (a) provides a diagnosis of the deeply embedded forms of power that have been materialized, over several centuries, in the earthly conditions of life itself; and (b) represents a critical potential for creating new ways to live on earth through the practical exploration of geosocial relations. We highlight three modes of earth praxis. Inhuman territorializations calls attention to the landscapes and earthy matter subjected to racializing and territorializing modes of power. In turn, such practices participate in the constitution of dehumanized, racialized, and dispossessed bodies and peoples. Becoming geological refers to the ways human forms of living have become shot through with earth system dynamics, mineralogical relations, and energetic possibilities, to the extent that people cannot be who they are without these pervasive anthropogenic geologies. Finally, planetary predicaments helps diagnose the politically vital and collective but deeply unequal and nonhomogeneous conditions of the present. Earth as praxis offers an analytical grip on emerging planetary earth relations that breaks with abstract, universalizing categories, and is capable of diagnosing the wide range of today’s violent, creative, and liberatory planetary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Humanities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Anthropocene
  • decolonization
  • geology
  • planetary
  • praxis


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