Kathryn Yusoff

Kathryn Yusoff
Distinguished Lecture Year
2020
"Geologies of Race: unearthing the ground of the human"

Kathryn Yusoff is a professor of inhuman geography at Queen Mary University of London. She works on questions of subjectivity and materiality in the context of dynamic earth events. She has recently completed a book entitled "A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None" (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) that addresses the raciality of matter in the geologic grammars of the Anthropocene. Currently, she is finishing another book on “Geologic Life” about the politics of nonlife and the historical geologies of race.

Geology is a discipline that explains the Earth through its codification of matter and time to posit origin stories. It is world making, subject deforming and future building.

The temporal markers of prior earth stories locate and sediment narratives of prior earths and the political present, most notably in the thesis of the Anthropocene. One geologic origin story that can be told through the Anthropocene is of colonialism, as the development of matter into resource, property and progress. Another is of earth into territory, proprieties and alienation.

"Geologies of Race" addresses how the bones of geology and the stratigraphic imagination structured Enlightenment thought and its dreams of the world. Alongside the emergence of the humanist subject, geology ushered in a subject birthed within its elemental grammar: the inhuman. Interned in the geographical imperatives and desires of colonial conquest, the dual natality of the inhuman as both a category of matter and race, set in place a material praxis of anti-blackness.

Caught up in the ontological wake of these violent colonial geologies and their afterlives, "Geologies of Race" engages the forced intimacies of the inhuman and its racialized axis of extraction.

View her lecture in the video below.