21 Nov

Aesthetics of Extractivism

Mecila Final Workshop 2023

Cebrap | USP

About the event

Date: 21-22 November 2023

Place: USP/ FFLCH, São Paulo

Organization: Tomaz Amorim (Mecila Academic Manager, Freie Universität Berlin), Jörn Etzold (Senior Fellow, University of Bochum) and Rúrion Melo (Mecila Principal Investigator, Universidade de São Paulo)




The term “extractivism” commonly describes an economy that is based on the mining of raw materials, which, in the system of planetary division of labor, are then usually processed elsewhere and often sold back to the original territory with much higher prices. That which is extracted — commodities, energy, labor, especially that performed by Black or Indigenous bodies — has been and often still is thereby understood as a homogeneous and measurable resource that can be exploited until it is exhausted. The multiple relations – historical, aesthetical and cosmological – established between that which is extracted, those who extract and the territory are often destroyed, erased and/or forgotten.

The workshop aims to explore the aesthetics of extractivism, be it in innovative representation of extractivism in art, in recent critical studies about the presence of extractive industry in modern and contemporary literature, film, plays, or installations (José Miguel Wisnik), but also considering the concept of aesthetics understood from its root in the Greek word aisthesis: as sensuous perception or “sensuous cognition” (Baumgarten). We want to explore what sensual relation to the world underlies extractivism and how it shapes and generates that which is and can be perceived as “world.” In the “Extractive Zones” in Latin America (Macarena Gómez-Barris) — often on indigenous land or land inhabited by quilombos — extractivism is experienced sensuously (Ailton Krenak), it changes or destroys sensual approaches to the world and the cosmologies that go along with them (Davi Kopenawa). In turn, when resources are depleted, extractivism leaves behind altered landscapes and social fabrics that must confront the “trauma of deindustrialization” (Mary Dudley). The way extractivism shapes liveworlds historically has determinated many aspects of conviviality in Latin America: The living together often takes places in environments strongly shaped by infrastructures designated to transport commodities elsewhere. Extractivism also produces blatant inequalities concerning health, security and live expectancy of humans and non-humans: The equipment of some models of life causes the damage or even destruction of others. Finally, we want to discuss to what extent artistic strategies can deal with the aesthetics of extractivism.








21.11 (Tuesday) – CEBRAP

Barbara Göbel (Mecila German Director, Ibero Amerikanisches Institut)
Michelle Müntefering (Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages  (SPD))
Rúrion Melo (Mecila Principal Investigator, Universidade de São Paulo)
Jörn Etzold (Mecila Senior Fellow, Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Tomaz Amorim (Mecila Academic Manager, Freie Universität Berlin)

13h30 – 16h30 Panel I

Jörn Etzold (Mecila Senior Fellow, Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Remnants of Extractivism: The Ruhr Area

Fernanda Pitta (Universidade de São Paulo)
Práticas Extrativistas dentro e fora de Museus

Flavia Pinheiro Meireles (Mecila Thematic Research Group, CEFET-Rio de Janeiro)
Strengthening its Threads on Earth: Indigenous Artistic Practices

Astrid Ulloa (Mecila Associated Investigator, Universidad Nacional de Colombia)
Epistemologías Territoriales frente a las Estéticas de la Desposesión, La Guajira, Colombia [Online]

Chair: Tilmann Heil (Mecila Postdoctoral Investigator, Universität zu Köln)

16h30 Coffee Break

17h – 19h Keynote Conference
Macarena Gómez-Barris (Brown University)
Towards a Decolonial Media [Online]

Comment: Jörn Etzold (Mecila Senior Fellow, Ruhr-Universität Bochum)


22.11 (Wednesday) – USP

9h30 – 10h Opening

10h – 12h30 Panel II

Denilson Lopes (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro)
Against Nature

Gloria Chicote (Mecila Principal Investigator, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)
¿Cuándo Empieza el Antropoceno? Algunas Observaciones sobre la Modernidad Temprana y el Colonialismo

Tomaz Amorim (Mecila Academic Manager, Freie Universität Berlin)
Extractivism and Modernism in South America: Underground Relations

Berit Callsen (Mecila Thematic Research Group, Universität Osnabrück)
After Extractivism – Reflections on Material Aesthetics of Watery Healing

Chair: Melanie Strasser (Mecila Junior Fellow)

12h30 – 14h30 Lunch break

14h30-16h30 Keynote Conference
José Miguel Wisnik (Universidade de São Paulo)
Drummond e Guimarães Rosa frente à Devastação: Contracantos

Comment: Tomaz Amorim (Mecila Academic Manager, Freie Universität )

16h30 Coffee Break

17h – 17h30 Closing remarks