Interrogating the Plantationocene
Examining the past and present of plantations, their materialities, the economic, ecological, and political transformations they wrought, and their significance to the making of human bodies, capitalism, and land over the course of four centuries.
About the Seminar
With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and support from the Center for Humanities, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we are pleased to host an 18-month Sawyer Seminar, beginning in January 2019, devoted to “Interrogating the Plantationocene.” The seminar will draw together anthropologists, artists, economists, environmental scientists, geographers, historians, lawyers, literary scholars, and sociologists, among others, to explore and deepen the concept of the Plantationocene, interrogating the past and present of plantations, their materialities, the economic, ecological, and political transformations they wrought, and their significance to the making of human bodies, capitalism, and land over the course of four centuries. We will also consider other ways of naming our epoch (cene) that have recently been proposed, including Capitalocene (conceiving the Anthropocene as a result of ecological regimes inherent to capitalism, with its attendant demands for cheap labor, energy, food, and resources) and Chthulucene (a term that suggest the multispecies becomings that make up the storied histories of human and nonhuman lives). In doing so, we aim to come to terms with the plantation as a transformational moment in human and natural history on a global scale that is at the same time attentive to structures of power embedded in imperial and capitalist formations, the erasure of certain forms of life and relationships in such formations, and the enduring layers of history and legacies of plantation capitalism that persist, manifested in acts of racialized violence, growing land alienation, and accelerated species loss. At the same time, we aim to make visible past and present refugia of resistance, where different ways of being, sustained by different economies and forms of knowledge, have flourished.
Save the Dates: Spring 2019 Events
Feb. 20, 2019 Humanities without Boundaries Lecture, Françoise Vergès
Feb. 21, 2019 A Roundtable on the Anthropocene, with Gabrielle Hecht, Dan Richter, and Françoise Vergès, free and open to the public
Feb. 22, 2019 Anthropocene Seminar with Gabrielle Hecht, Dan Richter, and Françoise Vergès (must sign up in advance)
March 27, 2019 Humanities without Boundaries Lecture, Michelle Murphy
March 28, 2019 A Roundtable on the Capitalocene, with Shona Jackson, Jason Moore, and Michelle Murphy, free and open to the public
March 29, 2019 Capitalocene Seminar with Shona Jackson, Jason Moore, and Michelle Murphy (must sign up in advance)
April 18, 2019 An Evening of Conversation with Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, free and open to the public
April 19, 2019 Plantationocene Seminar with Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing (must sign up in advance)