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Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

Extraction seeps unbidden into every corner of our lives. It does not end with the literal removal of fossil fuels from the earth, though there’s plenty to excavate there. Rather, extraction is a productive framework for understanding the nexus of patriarchy, property, and settler-colonialism. Extraction is a way to run a government, to oversee a factory, to structure a schedule, to distill a narrative. Cultural whiteness—not the physical experience of living in lighter skin or with a narrower nose but the systemic conditioning of certain people for power—is a potent extractive mentality. This project examines extraction through scholarship pertaining to petromodernity, interviews with younger professionals, and anecdotes from the author’s own grappling with her white family’s stories of a mixed-race ancestor. This combination of theory and praxis, or the mix of memoir, conversation, and literature, allows rigor and intimacy to nestle, an imbrication typically prohibited by the constraints of a more traditional paper.

And that formal choice to weave the personal with the intellectual embodies the possible solution posited here: that intimacy, (or, the more theoretical term, eros) could counteract extraction. The cultivation of intimacy, of caring deeply and consistently over time, cannot re-intrench misogyny or funnel the erotic into sedated, state-controlled institutions and pastimes. It must transcend such corrals. If we want a way out, we will have to love ourselves, one another, and especially the non-human world more fiercely than ever. The eros that lasts, or the love that endures, is a state, not a trait: it is antithetical to the liquidity of the very oil for which we drill.

Mentor Name

Katie Kane

Personal Statement

Whether we drill for ancient, compressed micro-organisms to create gas for cars and plastic for the oceans or we narrate the history of the United States as a tale of westward expansion in the name of progress, conveniently eliding the genocide of millions of indigenous people, we perform an extraction, literal or rhetorical. Extraction is a useful way to group and think about many intersecting forms of oppression because this dislocation, whether geographic (the transport of fossil fuels), cultural (the separation of whiteness into a powerful category) or mental (the dissociation of air pollution from its industrial sources), informs so much of Western, and particularly American, ways of interacting with natural resources and caring for humans. This understanding of extraction is logical but has not been deeply explored, given the relative newness of the term "petromodernity" and its umbrella of study. Similarly, intimacy as a solution to extraction is not a new idea, but its relevance to the current environmental degradation, challenges to indigenous sovereignty, and difficulties of feeling like a person in the context of capitalism cannot be understated. This project is unusual for its multi-textual approach--an approach that is probably better suited to these complexities than a purely academic understanding of these deeply emotional, or shall we say, intimate, issues.

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Love Beyond Oil: Intimacy as the Way Out of Extraction

Extraction seeps unbidden into every corner of our lives. It does not end with the literal removal of fossil fuels from the earth, though there’s plenty to excavate there. Rather, extraction is a productive framework for understanding the nexus of patriarchy, property, and settler-colonialism. Extraction is a way to run a government, to oversee a factory, to structure a schedule, to distill a narrative. Cultural whiteness—not the physical experience of living in lighter skin or with a narrower nose but the systemic conditioning of certain people for power—is a potent extractive mentality. This project examines extraction through scholarship pertaining to petromodernity, interviews with younger professionals, and anecdotes from the author’s own grappling with her white family’s stories of a mixed-race ancestor. This combination of theory and praxis, or the mix of memoir, conversation, and literature, allows rigor and intimacy to nestle, an imbrication typically prohibited by the constraints of a more traditional paper.

And that formal choice to weave the personal with the intellectual embodies the possible solution posited here: that intimacy, (or, the more theoretical term, eros) could counteract extraction. The cultivation of intimacy, of caring deeply and consistently over time, cannot re-intrench misogyny or funnel the erotic into sedated, state-controlled institutions and pastimes. It must transcend such corrals. If we want a way out, we will have to love ourselves, one another, and especially the non-human world more fiercely than ever. The eros that lasts, or the love that endures, is a state, not a trait: it is antithetical to the liquidity of the very oil for which we drill.