This talk addresses how natural resources are the dominant and normative modality of matter, one that is predicated on and institutionalizes racialized relations. Two stratal relations deployed in the making of natural resources in the U.S. are addressed. First, the stratigraphic imagination of race in Louis Agassiz’s geographic race maps and portraits of the enslaved, alongside his scientific and political claims about polygenesis, plantations and the enduring legacy of racial difference. The second strata examines a convict lease prison mine in Birmingham, Alabama, which helped build the ‘Magic City’ and floated U.S. Steel on the stock exchange. This example of the carceral form of ‘natural resources’ and the undergrounding of black life during and after Reconstruction built the white surfaces of Modernity, enacting the stratigraphic imagination of racial difference as surface and mine. I consider both these accounts of materiality as affective infrastructures of White Geology that point to broader sites in the racializing geo-logics of natural resources and the decolonizing of matter. Within the talk I will address questions of material memory and redress, alongside the weaponization of geology through natural resources as an affectual architecture of racializing difference.
This lecture will be followed by a Q&A. You may ask questions during this time using the Q&A feature on Zoom, or you may submit questions for the speaker beforehand using this link: https://harvard.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1XhsTcxTMxYiTPL