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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

African Extractivism, Then and Now

23rd January 2020, 17:00 to 19:00, ER149, Dr Christine Okoth

This is the second lecture of the series on "Capitalism, Nature and Climate Change" organised by the Centre for Culture and Ecology.

This talk discusses four extractive sites across the African continent, demonstrating how extraction generates a set of formal logics that shape the production of culture in the contemporary black Atlantic world. It takes up the challenges posed by what Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson have called ‘the multiple frontiers of extraction’ through a comparison of mica in Namibia, cocoa in Ghana, coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and oil in Nigeria. Each region and commodity point to the operations that characterise extractive practices at their contemporary frontiers. Through the works of visual artists Otobong Nkanga and Ibrahim Mahama as well as the writings of Dionne Brand and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, this talk suggests that focusing on the logics produced by extraction can offer us ways of understanding historic and contemporary forms of racial subjection. Looking onto what Macarena Gómez-Barris calls ‘the extractive zone’ from the perspective of sub-Saharan Africa, these works consider how extractive logics refigure the relationships between labour, land, and capital circulation. In so doing, they reveal both the contemporary encroachments of extractivism’s disaggregrating impulse and its historic entanglement in processes of racialisation.

Dr Okoth is a Leverhulme Research Fellow at Warwick University.