[CANCELLED] Skin and fuel. Two episodes in the history of fossilized whiteness

In collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Environmental Humanities Center VU and the Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage VU

12mrt2020 17.00 - 18.30


What links between whiteness and fossil fuels does history display? Renowned environmental scholar Andreas Malm suggests that the ongoing surge of an anti-climate, pro-fossil-fuel far right is bringing deep historical forces to the fore. Furthermore, Malm speculates on various possible scenarios of far-right politics in a rapidly warming world.

This event has been cancelled

From Sweden to Spain, Poland to the US, Germany to Brazil, recent years have witnessed a surging far right at just the moment of intensifying climate breakdown. This far right tends to deny the existence of any climate crisis and insist on maximum production and consumption of fossil fuels and other climate-destroying resources. At the same time, it positions itself as the defender of a racially defined nation – to all intents and purposes, the white nation. What are the historical sources of this configuration? Based on the book White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism, written by the Zetkin Collective and forthcoming from Verso in 2020, this lecture hones in on two episodes in the history of fossilized whiteness: first, the imperial use of steam-power and its place in nineteenth-century racism; second, the articulation of race in the automobile in twentieth-century US and early twenty-first century Europe.

About the speakers

Andreas Malm is currently a research fellow at Critical Theory in Berlin, based at the Humanities and Social Change Center, Humboldt University. In 2020, Verso will publish his How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire, and White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism, written together with the Zetkin Collective.

Jeff Diamanti teaches literary and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam. With Imre Szeman, he is the editor of Energy Cultures: Art and Theory on Oil and Beyond (West Virginia University Press), and with Amanda Boetzkes, he co-organizes “At the Moraine,” an ongoing research project on the political ecology of glacial retreat in Greenland. In addition to co-editing the Climate Realism book and journal collection with Lynn Badia and Marija Cetinic, he also has two forthcoming book chapters in the Duke University Press Elements Series.

Kristine Steenbergh is a senior lecturer in English Literature at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She specializes in the fields of the history of emotions and ecocriticism. She is one of the founders of the Environmental Humanities Center (CLUE+), a center that brings together students, scholars, and members of the general public interested in humanities perspectives on the environment. She is also a member of De Jonge Akademie (KNAW).

© Kristine Steenbergh

© Kristine Steenbergh

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