Articles

Articles

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How to remain Human in the Wrong Space? A comment on a dialog by Carl Schmitt
2019

Critical Inquiry, Vol 47 Summer 2021 pp. 699-718

Abstract
Accessible on the site of Critical Inquiry To become aware of the depth of the ecological mutation, one has to criticize the notion of abstract space. It turns out that, in many of his works, Carl Schmitt has found ways to politicize the production of neutral depoliticized space. This is especially true in “Dialogue on New Space.” The dialogue summarizes Schmitt’s earlier works, but it also tries to relate, audaciously, the character of being human with the different conceptions of space entertained by each protagonist of the dialogue. Especially important in the plot is the interpretation of the expression of “unencumbered technology” that Schmitt associates with the destiny of liberalism and the sort of spatial domination ad infinitum that it implies. The final point of the dialogue is that you cannot be really human in the wrong space. The article does not pretend to make Schmitt a thinker of ecology but to extract from his highly peculiar critique of space something that could be useful to help criticize a depoliticized notion of green space.
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Ecology & Political Ecology, Politics, Social Theory 🔗
(162)
“We don’t seem to live on the same planet…” — a fictional planetarium
2018

“We don’t seem to live on the same planet…” — a fictional planetarium for the catalog in edited by Kathryn B. Hiesinger & Michelle Millar Designs for Different Futures, Philadelphia Museum of Art &The Art History of Chicago (initially given as the Loeb Lecture, Harvard, GSD) 2019, pp; 193-199.
Reprinted in Latour, Bruno, and Peter Weibel. Critical Zones - The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2020.

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.
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[Traduction en hollandais Dutch translation In Ctiii Het Parlement Van de Dingen, 2020, Boom, Amsterdam. pp 125-156]

Compositionism, Ecology & Political Ecology 🔗
(159)
A Clear Inversion of the End Times Schema
2018

A Clear Inversion of the End Times Schema (with an (invented) picture of Neo Rauch by Ali Gharib) unpublished in Englist (kindly translated by Stephen Muecke)
The original in French in Revue de science religieuse

Sur une nette inversion du schème de la fin des temps
Abstract
To respond to the theme of this painting, I would simply like to begin with Laudato si’ and reflect on the originality of the idea, as anthropological as it is theological, that Pope Francis puts forward in his encyclical. I’d like to read this text in order to show how it brings about a clear inversion of the end times scenario. And I don’t think the consequences of this inversion have been drawn out enough (or their impact on iconography made visible in Rauch’s work). To take up the question of what the Anthropocene does to the theology of Creation, it goes without saying that I have no particular qualifications relating to the two elements that I want to link, except perhaps having followed the literature on the Anthropocene fairly closely.
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Ecology & Political Ecology, Religion Studies 🔗
(158)
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
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Ecology & Political Ecology 🔗
(157)
“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

Dutch translation
« Uitbreiding van het domein van de vrijheid, of waarom Gaia zo moelijk te begrijpen valt » Amsterdam.
Het Parlement Van de Dingen, 2020,
Boom, Amsterdam. pp 67-90

Compositionism, Ecology & Political Ecology, History of Science, Politics 🔗
(156)
Against critique, for critique
2019

“Against critique, for critique” in Elizabeth Graw (editor) The Value of Critique, Campus Verlag Frankfurt, 2019, 15-30

Abstract
Although I'm not against critique, my paper has been put into a section called Against Critique. Critique is not one of the topics I have worked on very much apart from one single paper to explain why “it has run out of steam”. So I'm slightly worried that the other authors might not be happy because I'm asked to write about a topic I tried to convince Isabelle Graw I know nothing about. Nevertheless, I applaud the undertaking of having a symposium on the value of critique on the 18th January 2017 the day before the United States of America enters an extraordinary deconstructionist effort that will probably lead to its own irrelevance and maybe demise by inaugurating the new president whose name it is best not to pronounce. I also endorse the effort to publish our thoughts on the topic. The tragedy of the inauguration tomorrow is something, which I'm keeping in mind while writing.
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🔗
(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.
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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.
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Viualization 🔗
(151)
"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.
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Language: Spanish
Journal: Humus independent booklet humus-editores.cl
Translator: Paula Hernández
Date: 2017

Ecology & Political Ecology, Politics 🔗