No Empires, No Wastelands: Ecological Solidarity for the 21st Century with Hannah Holleman

No Empires, No Wastelands: Ecological Solidarity for the 21st Century with Hannah Holleman

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About the Talk: In this lecture, Prof. Hannah Holleman discusses the vital lessons we can learn from one of the first global environmental problems of modern capitalism, which reached its apogee in the "dust-bowlification" of agricultural lands in the 1920's and 1930's. Based on award-winning research, Prof. Holleman explains that the regional crises of soil erosion in this period as dramatic and foreseeable manifestations of a global social and ecological emergency generated by the racialized political economy and ecology of white settler colonialism and the new imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She establishes key antecedents to present-day ecological developments and brings the narrative forward to today, explaining the persistent consequences and important lessons of this era for our current struggles to address the planetary challenges of climate change, environmental injustice and racism, and new threats of dust-bowlification. In the end, Prof. Holleman argues, we are confronted with the necessity of breaking with the white man's burden version of environmentalism and building a deeper ecological solidarity in order to heal the life-threatening, interrelated social and ecological rifts of our day.

About the Speaker: Dr. Hannah Holleman is Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at Amherst College and author of Dust Bowls of Empire: Imperialism, Environmental Politics, and the Injustice of "Green" Capitalism (Yale 2018). She is a director of the Monthly Review Foundation, a member of the editorial board for the Journal of World-Systems Research, and recently joined the editorial board for The Journal of Peasant Studies. She also currently serves as an exhibit scholar-advisor at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

On the Entanglement Project at Duke-FHI: Climate catastrophe cannot be thought outside of the context of empire and the forms of racialization central to global capitalism, including the degradation of peoples, ecosystems and lands facilitated by states in the global North. Threats to the very existence of the planet and all its inhabitants result from this genocidal global development project, yet the effects are being borne more grotesquely by those who live in the global South. Environmental justice efforts that overlook the longue durée trajectory of the historical operations of capitalism, and the raciality that affixes a disproportionate burden onto ex-colonized areas of the planet and its inhabitants, fall short of pointing us in a direction of systemic and just change.

The Climate Change, Decolonization and Global Blackness Lab seeks to explore the linkages among three pivotal and simultaneously occurring catastrophes—criminality, displacement, pandemics—toward developing a set of principles regarding decolonization as an ethical approach to climate change.