Intersectional Ecologies Working Group – “‘all depends on all’: Re-examining Ecologies of Enclosure”

Friday, Feb 18, 2022 | 10:00 am - 11:30 am

VIRTUAL - Zoom Webinar

Intersectional Ecologies Spring 2022 FlyerIntersectional Ecologies: Spatial Practices, Pedagogies, Imaginations Working Group
‘all depends on all’: Re-examining Ecologies of Enclosure
with M.A. Miller (Assistant Adjunct Professor in English at Mills College)

Zoom Webinar – Please email us to register at intersectionalecologies@gmail.com.

The 1801 Inclosure Act formally legalized English Parliament’s abolishment of the commons and the juridical transition to private property. This talk re-examines ecologies of enclosure that preceded this act which arbitrarily rendered “land” into bounded plots and asks: how was an ecology of containment enforced before this legal decision? This talk suggests it was enforced through segmenting, quantifying, and measuring components of the biosphere as a means of expanding the efficiency and profitability of the plantation economy. The talk will be made up of two interludes: air and soil. “Air” will focus on the spatialization of air with the discovery of photosynthesis in 1772 by Joseph Priestley and its subsequent use in defining what constitutes sufficient breathing “room” for enslaved Africans in the ship’s hold. “Soil” will focus on James Grainger’s poem, The Sugar Cane (1764) which indexes the cultivation of sugar cane in the West Indies island of St. Kitts. This interlude will analyze the plantation’s fragile fantasy of containment by addressing Grainger’s conflation of the enslaved African’s body with the sugar cane monocrop as well as the tax laws used to restrict and constrict their movements as a means of “enclosing” the plantation. Ultimately, the talk hopes to offer a couple of points of origin to contemporary issues of environmental racism, drawing parallels to Eric Garner’s 11 times repeated “I can’t breathe” as well as the racialized distribution of food deserts, including that of the West Oakland community.

 


The Intersectional Ecologies working group investigates the intersections between race, gender, and alternative ecological futures. Positioned at the crossroad between academic research and spatial practice, the group studies the role of technical rationality in producing and maintaining racist, heteropatriarchal, and ecocidal forms of oppression. Within “sustainable” development, narratives of “resilience,” and growth paradigms, practices of hygienism, eco-modernism, and green neocolonialism have offered technological fixes to environmental destruction while funneling capital accumulation.

We challenge these approaches through the lens of critical race theory, Indigenous perspectives, radical and political-ecological feminism, queer ecological critique, and epistemologies from the South that foster relational and non-extractive ways of being in the world. We are interested in learning from place-based forms of resistance to neoliberal logic, including Indigenous claims to ancestral lands, queer collectives building rural communities, urban anarchist enclaves, and Black, feminist, and disability activists.

By studying these practices, we take the difficulty of radical representation in academia seriously: we expose the enabling conditions for our discussions in a first-class university and encourage alternative learning structures. Our intellectual foundation includes collective dialogues and open-access publications to investigate alternative ecological futures in a way that refuses to silence race and gender.   Learn more.

The group is supported with grants from the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Center for Race and Gender, the Draper Architectural History Research Fund and the Arcus Chair of Gender, Sexuality & the Built Environment at the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley.

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