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Ecotheories Colloquium: Black Soil

Kimberly Bain, University of British Columbia

February 15, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · Zoom

Department of English

This talk turns to Black soil to map a provisional theory of Black alchemy. Black alchemy names an erotic and ethical orientation toward the Dead and dead matter. Sifting the metonymic, metaphysical, and material properties between (Black fleshly) matter and (earthly) matters, I argue for an attention to the erotic relations between Blackness, soil, and Dead (matter). These relations disrupt and refuse the circuits of racial capitalism that establish both Black bodies and soil as sites of resource depletion and commodification. Turning to the syncretic knowledge system of Obeah and tinctures of grave dirt; Cachexia Africana and the histories of dirt eating; and the 2019 performance and installation “Dirt Eater” by Kiyan Williams, I ask: what are the practices of those who’ve collectively lived the end of the world and therefore are already dreaming the messy, dirty end of this one?

A speaker series co-sponsored by: The English Department’s Contemporary Poetry Colloquium, the High Meadows Environmental Institute, the Environmental Media Lab, the Bain-Swiggett Poetry Fund, the Effron Center for the Study of America, the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, and the University Center for Human Values.

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