Monday, 4th November 2013, 1-2pm
Speaker: Akin Akinwumi, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Location LEC Training Rooms 1 & 2, Gordon Manley Building
In this talk, my objective is to highlight the haunting effects of environmental ruination brought on by the activity of transnational corporations – as seen in places like Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, and Vietnam. I will draw attention to the uses of a quintessentially American law – the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) – by actors in the global South to make claims concerning environmental justice, responsibility, and accountability. In addressing the issue of environmental ruination I aim to emphasize the analytical benefits of bringing environmental studies into conversation with social theory and legal geography. In particular, I will engage with the work of sociologist Avery Gordon whose Ghostly Matters added a material dimension to the philosophical project begun by Jacques Derrida in his musings on “hauntology”, Spectres of Marx. At its most fundamental, the notion of haunting suggests that the past leaves indelible traces on modern social life. As such, haunting addresses the unfinished business of the past as it is felt in the present, including the very substance and concreteness of the physical environment. In conjunction with the focus on haunting, I will draw insights from debates on ruination and David Delaney’s work on the nomosphere.