Articles

Articles

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Politics - A Glimpse at Bodybuilding Afterword to What’s the New Body of the Body Politic? A Cini Dialog
2019

Afterword of the 2017 meeting at Cini Foundation, San Giorgio, Venice

Abstract
How in our right mind could we have the idea of convening in one three-day meeting political philosophers with scientists working on ants, baboons, cells, natural parks, together with historians of capitalism and — how totally bizarre! — specialists of the planet taken as a whole, namely Gaia — plus metaphysicians and historians of science thrown in, plus a bit of legal theory and a lot of social science to steer the pot further? What did we hope to achieve by linking corporate law with embryo development, the management of Amboseli with 19th century investment in railway or the competition between baboons and farmers, with the philosophy of Whitehead and the autotrophy of the earth system? And yet the only way to have a chance to renew the question of the extent, function and future of politics might well be to enter into this strange exercise and, against all odds, to carry it obstinately to the end. Why? Because whatever you expect from the future, you will indeed have to join in some ways in the same polity exactly those various types of beings that were brought to the table in September 2017. It is true that the term “body politik” has been disputed, but is there a better way to flag the goal of the new geohistorical epoch? No matter how disputed is the geological term of Anthropocene, this is exactly the sort of clarification that it triggers and the sort of occasion it opens for natural and social scientists to be able to collaborate. Indeed, it has provided a new breed of diplomats with the underserved chance of an improbable encounter, thanks to the generosity of the Cini Foundation, in one of the most beautiful setting there is: the Biblioteca Longana of San Giorgio.
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Actor-Network-Theory, Ecology & Political Ecology, Social Theory 🔗
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Grundraum — Who Will Answer Gaia’s Challenge? A Few Comments on Carl Schmitt’s Dialog on New Space
2019

Unpublished

Abstract
I agree there is something most bizarre in transforming Carl Schmitt into the deepest thinker of political ecology, because his kind of depth is precisely the opposite of what people usually attribute to “deep ecology”. My argument is that thanks to his view of space and power, we finally escape the depoliticization that so far has gone with ecological concerns. I claim that by repoliticizing space in the most radical way, Schmitt allows us to see what went wrong in the depoliticization of space implied by concepts borrowed from “nature”.
Translations
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Ecology & Political Ecology, Politics 🔗
(162)
“We don’t seem to live on the same planet…” — a fictional planetarium
2018

Beyond the Horizon: Designs for Different Futures- Catalog of an Exhibition

Abstract
Architects and designers are facing a new problem when they want to build for a habitable planet. They have to answer a new question because what used to be a lame joke: “My poor fellow you seem to live on another planet”, has become literal: “Yes indeed, we do intend to live on a different planet!”. In the old days, when political scientists talked about geopolitics, they meant different nations with opposite interests waging wars on the same material and geographical stage. Today, geopolitics is also concerned with wars about the very definition of the stage itself. A conflict will be called, from now on, “of planetary relevance” not because it has the planet for a stage, but because it is about which planet you are claiming to inhabit and to defend.
Translations
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Compositionism, Ecology & Political Ecology 🔗
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Gaia 2.0. Could humans add some level of self-awareness to Earth’s self-regulation?
2018

Gaia 2.0 Could humans add some level of self-awareness to Earth’s self-regulation? (with Tim Lenton first author) Science14 SEPTEMBER 2018 • VOL 361 ISSUE 6407pp.1066-1068

Abstract
According to Lovelock and Margulis’ Gaia hypothesis, living things form part of a planetary scale self-regulating system that has maintained habitable condi-tions for the past 3.5 billion years (1, 2). In this concept, Gaia expanded from within the Earth system and came over time to alter the climate and dominate the surface cycling of nutrients. Gaia has operated without foresight or planning on the part of other organisms, but the evolution of humans and their tech-nology is changing that. Earth has now entered a new epoch termed the Anthropocene (3), and humans are beginning to become aware of the global consequences of their actions. As a result, deliberate self-regulation—from personal action to reduce carbon footprints, to global geoengineering schemes—is either happening or imminently possible (see the figure). We argue that making conscious choices to operate within Gaia constitutes a fundamental new state of Gaia. By emphasizing the agency of lifeforms and their ability to set goals, a Gaia perspective may be an effective framework for fostering global sustainability
Translations
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Ecology & Political Ecology 🔗
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“Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why is Gaia so Hard to Understand?”
2018

“Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why is Gaia so Hard to Understand?” with Timothy Lenton, prepublication in Critical Inquiry

Abstract
In this paper, two specialists of Gaia theory, one from the humanities and the other from Earth System Science (Exeter University), make a sustained effort to list the misunderstandings created by those who have either rejected or accepted Gaia too readily. They argue that the uniqueness of the phenomenon and of the arguments made by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, has been under-recognized. Neither mechanical nor organismic metaphors can render justice to the originality of Gaia. They show that the core of the discovery is to grant agency back to life forms and that Gaia is the highly complex result of their extension in space and duration in time. They conclude that Gaia is different from the concept of nature, difference that opens a new way to look at the connection between biology and politics which they define as extension of the domain of freedom.
Translations
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Compositionism, Ecology & Political Ecology, History of Science, Politics 🔗
(155)
Giving Depth to the Surface – an exercise in the Gaia-graphy of Critical Zones
2017

“Giving Depth to the Surface – an exercise in the Gaia-graphy of Critical Zones" (paper by Alexandra Arènes, Bruno Latour & Jérôme Gaillardet) in The Anthropocene Review, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2053019618782257

Abstract
Foregrounding the importance of soil and more generally the surface of the Earth —what is now often called the Critical Zone (CZ)— remains very difficult as long as the usual planetary view, familiar since the scientific revolution, is maintained. In this joint effort between a landscape architect, a historian of science and a geochemist, we offer an anamorphosis which allows to shift from a planetary vision of places located in the geographic grid, to a representation of events located in what we call a Gaia-graphic view. We claim that such a view because it gives pride of place to the CZ is much better suited to situate the new actors of the Anthropocene.
Translations
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Design, Ecology & Political Ecology, History of Science, Viualization 🔗
(152)
Gaia or Knowledge Without Spheres
2017

Edited volume by Simon Schaffer, John Tresch, Pasquale Gagliardi: Aesthetics of Universal Knowledge, Palgrave London p. 169-201, 2017

Abstract
Autrement dit, la vision de la terre comme globe terrestre est à la fois une impossibilité pratique bien qu’elle passe pour l’exemple même d’un solide matérialisme. Pourtant, au sens propre, concret, il est tout à fait faux de dire que nous habitons sur le globe terrestre. Personne ne s’est jamais vu comme un habitant de la terre vu depuis l’espace, sinon quand il lit un roman de la physique.
Translations
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Viualization 🔗
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"Does the Body Politic Need a New Body?"
2006

"Does the Body Politic Need a New Body?" Yusko Ward-Phillips lecture, University of Notre Dame, 3rd of November 2016

Abstract
This paradox of insisting on sovereignty just at the time when it is becoming even more ill adapted than before, can be sharpened. A legitimate desire for protection and identity is being transformed into a denial that what allows this protection and identity actually comes from resources that exist beyond the apparent limits defining any given body. Nowhere is this requirement clearer than in the question of global climate mutation: to withdraw inside the narrow limits of nation-states is the surest way to threaten the safety and livelihood of those same nation-states, and even, for some low lying countries, to risk their existence altogether. If we accept to define Real-Politick as a selfish defense of one’s own national interest, then it should be realistic to take into account all those external factors on which the self depends. In some ways, this is what brought the 189 nation-states to some sort of agreement in Paris in December 2015: even if they reacted much too late, it is in the name of Real Politick that they were forced to take into account the legitimate power of the climate that ignores all national boundaries but that weighs on all of them. Nations did not stop to pursue their interests, but they were forced to accept that those interests were entangled in such a way that drawing the precise limits of those interests had become impossible. Even if you suppose that hard-nose geo-politics obliges States to remain selfish, you will have to recognize how terribly difficult it is for any one of them to draw the exact boundary around the self at the time of ecological crisis.
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Actor-Network-Theory, Compositionism, Ecology & Political Ecology, Modes of existence, Politics 🔗
(150)
Is Geo-Logy the Umbrella for all the Sciences ? With a few Hints for a New University
2016

Lecture given at Cornell University, 25th October 2016

Abstract
My hunch is that the disorientation everybody feels about the dislocation of politics — even more evident at this time of the presidential election — is the direct consequence of this other disorientation regarding the territory. If politics appears so vacuous, it might be because it has not a solid and shared ground on which to raise issues of substance. How can you expect to have substantial policy debates if there is no territory to map, no cosmos to share, no soil to inhabit? How could we maintain a minimum of decent common institutions if we have no land in common, literally no common ground? In this lecture I want to diagnose the origin of such disorientation and to imagine how this very special institution that we call the University could in some ways help us to land somewhere, to reach a place drawn realistically enough so that politics could start afresh. Let me look at some of the reasons why we feel so disoriented.
Translations

Language: Spanish
Journal: Humus independent booklet humus-editores.cl
Translator: Paula Hernández
Date: 2017

Ecology & Political Ecology, Politics 🔗
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A life Among Conceptual Characters 
2016

New Literary History, special symposium on Latour and the Humanities edited by Rita Felski. Vol. 47, 463-476, 2016

Abstract
Oddly enough, I am able to date with a perfect degree of precision my connection with writing as a thought producing activity: 13th of October 1961. Even the hour — 7 pm — is inscribed on the cover page of the first of my personal diaries! As far as I can tell, the fourteen-year old writer had already made the connection between writing and thinking since he had penned as an incipit: “J’y noterai tous les soirs mes activités et surtout mes pensées’’ (« I will report what i do and above all my thoughts »). The “above all” is especially pleasant since at this early age he had no thought whatsoever to jot down! At least not yet. Because, as everyone in the field of humanities suspects, thinking follows and does not precede writing — at least this highly specific form of thinking associated with mid-century bourgeois European techniques of scribbling. Considering that today I am taking notes in a (by now digital) notebook numbered 212, this means I have been allowed for the last fifty-five years to continuously learn what I should think through the deciphering of some twenty thousand pages of personal pattes de mouche! squiggles. (?)
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Semiotics & Literature Studies 🔗