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Future Imaginaries for When the World Feels Like Heartbreak Image Credit: TAKE on art
Future Imaginaries for When the World Feels Like Heartbreak Image Credit: TAKE on art

Future Imaginaries for When the World Feels Like Heartbreak

I awoke the day after the United States election and my heart hurt. I felt devastated and afraid. My breath seemed to be constricted. Stepping outside was like stepping into a land in mourning. People looked sad and tired and depressed. I went to the wrong campus searching for the class I was meant to guest teach. When I began to come out of this stunned stupor, I started to realise that my silences, my inaction, my disbelief in the depth of what Michelle Alexander calls racial indifference, coupled with renewed and blatant white nationalism, had led to this moment.1 In the weeks since that day, there has been a huge amount of mobilising in the face of renewed white supremacy and corporatocracy. Mobilising for what, precisely, we cannot yet be sure. But it doesn’t look good. And everyday it seems to get worse. What has become clearer and clearer, for me, in the wake of the election is the deep entwinement of the twin formations that are often treated as separate phenomenon. That is, white supremacy and ecological disaster. I want to make a case in the brief space here that racial and environmental justice cannot be separated, but are part of an entangled matrix of capitalism and colonialism that is killing the majority of the inhabitants on this earth.2.


Heather Davis

The history of the United States (and Canada) reveals that ecological disaster is premised on the twin-fold processes of accumulation by dispossession and chattel slavery that was at the heart of the settler colonial project. In other words, the kinds of environmentally destructive processes that we are bearing the burden of now are not new phenomenon. Nor are they incidental to the larger frameworks of genocide, slavery, and the fact that, as Amitav Ghosh makes clear, “the poor nations of the world are not poor because they were indolent or unwilling; their poverty is itself an effect of the inequities created by the carbon economy; it is a result of systems that were set up by brute force to ensure that poor nations remained always at a disadvantage in terms of both wealth and power” (110). It is not simply an unlucky coincidence that Indigenous, black, poor and other marginalised peoples bear the brunt of environmental harm. Rather, as Kyle Whyte has argued, settler colonialism has always relied upon the complete transformation of the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. Indigenous genocide and the implementation of slavery on plantations involved not only these social horrors, but also the terra forming of the earth to resemble an idyllic version of Europe. It was about moving and unearthing rocks and minerals. It was about forcing the people and the land to conform to a preestablished Eurocentric notion of reality, and in the process erasing wha

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