What, when & where
Stemming from Extracted Grounds:
Extractivism, Resistance, and Possibilities of Scholarship
Princeton University | Department of Comparative Literature | April 9-11, 2020
Keynote Speakers: Alexis Shotwell & Will Wilson
We invite intellectual workers to submit proposals concerning issues of material and/or intellectual extraction and its implications for scholarship and other cultural forms. Extractivism as a paradigm primarily designates the drawing of raw materials from the earth’s natural environment—a process that disproportionately affects the peripheries of the world-system. This model is generalized under capitalist and colonialist systems of exploitation and value production to encompass the extraction of material and immaterial labor, and the commodification of natural resources and cultural artifacts. Furthermore, elite networks of knowledge production and dominant disciplinary methodologies are not extricable from this accumulation through dispossession, and scholarly work on underprivileged populations remains ambivalently implicated in expropriation across the world and particularly in the Global South.
Under the conditions of university power/knowledge regime, non-dominant ways of knowing and being in the world—contained in literary, aesthetic, sacred, and intellectual production—are devalued and then processed as decontextualized interpretations. The aim of this conference is to create a space for cultural workers to interrogate the forms of alienation inherent to academic institutionalization of marginalized epistemologies, from the detainment of cultural artifacts in museums and libraries to the various forms of translation that turn “folk” knowledges into scientific or state discourses open to commodification, abstraction, and dislocation. In addition to a critique of extraction, we want to invite scholarly self-reflection on methodology, institutional positionality, and relationality of interlocutors, languages, and archives, in order to explore the possibilities of different types of scholarship.
We hope to draw a variety of projects focused on the ongoing histories of displacement, dispossession, and marginalization, and to engage them in conversations about the ethical complexities that cut across disciplinary divisions. Who chronicles the struggles taking place in landscapes being extracted from and why? How do we navigate the layers of extraction that are built into educational institutions and leave a mark on our work? What methodologies and relationships to a community, an archive, or a region can help us think about cultural possibilities stemming from extracted ground?
How does the abstraction of theory intersect with the abstraction whose result is material violence, and how can we discuss these processes without erasing the forms of violence that constitute them? How do cartographic and other abstractions mystify extraction’s geographical grasp in addition to shaping the various disciplinary formations in the academy? How do these geographies, built into intellectual disciplines and fields of study, impact the possibilities of academic collaboration and the dependence on state, corporate, or military research funding?
How do existing studies and conceptualizations of the Global South, indigeneity, minoritization, decoloniality, postcoloniality, queerness, and environmentalism foster or foreclose social change on the ground? What conceptual vocabulary help better analyze and resist the workings of extractivism and to elucidate the constitutive relations between social and physical landscapes, and material and intellectual labor?
Other proposals may address:
⎯ activism & academia: representation, identity politics, boycott
⎯ environmental racism & climate apartheid: environmental in/justice, unequal distribution of effect and responsibility, developmentalism & environmental pollution
⎯ sustainability, “renewability,” climate interventionism (internationalism & transnationalism)
⎯ location & lifeworlds: international division of intellectual labor, access & enclosure
⎯ community & abstraction: thinking the world/global/planetary & the local/regional & centers/margins
Deadline & how to apply
Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words) with a separate cover sheet featuring the applicant’s name, affiliation, and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2020.