CLIMATES OF (IN)JUSTICE: GEOGRAPHIES, ENVIRONMENT, AND PLACE
EDITED BY HALEY EAZOR AND DEBARATI ROY
In Gentle Now, Don’t Add to Heartache, Juliana Spahr writes: “It was not all long lines of connection and utopia. / It was a brackish stream and it went through the field beside our house. / But we let into our hearts the brackish parts of it also.” Spahr’s poetics speaks of environmental change alongside fibers of love and intimacy, her language planetary in its interweaving of home and not home, of waters fresh and briny, of animacies blighted and beloved. Orbiting a planet scarred by the weaponization, monetization, and pollution of lands, atmospheres, and oceans, the reviews of this section greet the earth that enfolds us all as precarious, aggrieved, and audacious.
The conversations in this section move between material environments of land, sea, and air that are all marked by capitalist-colonial wounds. In thinking through specific sites of harm, Alhelí Harvey’s review of Deserts Are Not Empty, edited by Samia Henni, forges a spatial imaginary that reorients deserts away from western narratives of “wastelands.” Against colonizing impulses to calcify deserts as spaces of extraction, dangerous, predatory places of immigrant threat, policing, and capture, test sites for military weaponry, and toxic waste dumps, Harvey highlights Henni’s redefinition of the desert as a political, colonial project, in turn rejecting the narrative of deserts as barren, lifeless spaces. Henrik Jaron Schneider’s review of Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining, written by Orrin Pikley, Norma Longo, William Neal, Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, Keith Pilkey, and Hannah Hayes, reimagines the political scope of sand that morphs between environment and industrial resource. In acknowledging the “devastating global environments and social impacts of sand mining,” Schneider emphasizes the destructive nature of resource extraction across the vast global expanses of coastal beaches, communities, heritages, and ecosystems, harmed. Ultimately, Schneider notes, Vanishing Sands functions as a “plea for the protection of our beaches and a call to action to find more sustainable alternatives to sand.” Mapping the relationship between tropics and ice, isaac dwyer’s review of Hi‘lei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart’s Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshmentcontemplates Hawaii’s history with “cold under colonial occupation.” Charting an overlap in food scholarship, geographic environments, and their intersectionalities with racial politics, dwyer points to materials such as chilled cocktails, ice-cream and ice shave and asks: who gets to consume these commodities, and in what spaces? For, as Hi‘lei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart writes, “melt can remind us of shared struggles across vast geographies.”
Across landscapes of material-environmental involvements with political action, Debarati Roy and Alex Voisine’s reviews move this section into reparative languages of intimacy and social justice, within planetary spaces of harm, as always-already birthed at the nexus of capitalist-colonial empires. Roy’s review of The Promise of Multispecies Justice, edited by Sophie Chao, Karin Bolender, and Eben Kirksey, thinks with stories of intersectional justice, at the continuum of environmental, political, and socio-cultural threads. These justices are contemplated, carried through, and sometimes deferred at anthropo-linguistic borders of significatory laws of the human. In tracking “inter-species languages,” Roy listens to the “fugitive aesthetics,” and stories of extra-human justices, in lives of pests, plants, chemicals, animals, and “outlaws,” human and non-human. Tristan Hanson’s review of Bethany Wiggin, et al.’s Timescales: Thinking Across Ecological Temporalities redefines the scopes and scales of hope in the Anthropocene, understanding non-linear temporalities as asymptomatic: not in the future of the human, but in the future despite the human. Hanson speaks to artistic and scientific intersections with posthumanism to highlight non-human memories against their reduction to data points and their existence through “deep times.” Hanson finally contemplates extinction and extension of the human in the process. In thinking about “new interspecies forms of communication,” Voisine’s review of Mary Louise Pratt’s Planetary Longings contends with the term “planetarity” over concepts of the “global, cosmopolitan, transnational, or international,” as the “post-global methodology, untethered to place.” Planetarity, as Voisine charts, allows capacious “contact-zones” for intersections between human and “non-human ‘existents’ as well as non-animate factors. Voisine’s discussion of Pratt’s redefinitions of “concepts” away from “solutions to problems”, allows a charting of “contact-zones” as sites of “performativity, improvisation, imperfection and intimacy”. Thus, planetarity is theorized in hybrid languages, across species, in the midst of possible “futurities… of extinction.”
Claire Fitch’s review of Yuriko Furuhata’s Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control marks this section’s transition into geopolitics and embodiment as methodology, understanding environments to be forms of media through which information unfurls and circulates between social, political, and ecological bodies. Fitch highlights Furuhata’s example of air conditioning as a structure of social conditioning, a way in which “socio-material legacies of imperialism and colonialism” mediate “all human relations with environment.” This entanglement of media and environment coalesces around Furuhata’s coining of the term “thermostatic desire,” which, as Fitch writes, traces “the inclination to create artificial spaces of atmospheric control in which society is safely insulated from climatic unpredictability.” Haley Eazor’s review of Jean-Thomas Tremblay’sBreathing Aesthetics too contemplates the variabilities of “climatic unpredictability” through atmospheric relations, marking how respiratory aesthetics must contend with breath as both a means of life and death, inseparable from polluted air. In tracing atmospheric lines of being, breath becomes a methodology for reading embodiments of harm and works of repair through the nexus of environment, toxicity, and socio-political structures. Eazor contemplates questions of breath at the intersections of life–its “atrophy” and final pause–-to follow the respiratory enmeshment of political and environmental crises through inhales and exhales.
Across geographical sites, through hazardous environments, and in spaces that linger even when places no longer do, the reviewers of this section trouble definitions of climate and of (in)justice. Belying uncomplicated binaries of communities in harm and/or in mend, they map the intimacy of species-relations onto climates sometimes genial, yet often volatile and feral. The reviews of this section contemplate socio-cultural ecologies that have the potential to create relations of justice even when structures remain unjust, threading lines of connection and quarrels along planetary scales of place and space, and those that weather them.