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P04


Plenary: The Return of the Archaic in a Higher Form 
Convenor:
Sharad Chari (University of California, Berkeley)
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Chair:
Richard Fardon (SOAS)
Format:
Plenary
Start time:
18 September, 2020 at 17:00
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

Since both Geography and Anthropology take their cues from the world, I begin with our dizzying present of multiple crises, connecting substantially different forms of life to a seemingly impossible cry of species irresponsibility to the planet: of anthropos contra gê. We can take a cue in deciphering the present from historians who pose it as a conjuncture of geographical histories of varying periods and rhythms: five hundred years of Capitalocene, a century’s fossil-fuel-addled alliance of corporate and state power, and a more recent shift from the post-war Great Acceleration to recurrent financial crises and a great disorganization of governmental means to secure the lives of people and environments. We should also add to this list the remains of the great unfinished anticolonial revolution of the twentieth century. First, I argue that complicity with mass death in relation to the epidemics of our era show us how deeply compromised and partial the biopolitical instruments forged at the turn of the 20th century have become by the turn of the 21st. Second, staying with Foucault’s terms, the most evocative forms of fearless speech of the past few years from resurgent Indigenous, youth and Black politics (including all combinations thereof) also express struggles over the efficacy of biopolitical tools, and their capture by capital and state-sanctioned racism in the most general sense that Memmi calls ‘heterophobia’. Thinking with Marx’s provocative last writings on the return of the archaic in higher form (a paraphrase that will need explication), I conclude that Geography and Anthropology might think in solidarity with the return of variously-repressed struggles, attentive to their multiple temporalities, and that in doing so we might give more substance to the call to decolonize our disciplines.