‘Petróleo’ (Barcelona, May 26-27) will reflect on bio-physical limits of economic growth, including talk by ACKnow-EJ Co-Coordinator Leah Temper

Late on the night of November 1st, 1975, Italian filmmaker, poet, and writer Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally murdered. Decades later, his murder remains unresolved. No stranger to controversy, Pasolini certainly had many public enemies, though some argue that Pasolini’s murder was connected to his in-progress novel Petrolio (Petroleum). In Petrolio, Pasolini describes details of a murder scandal concerning Italian oil and gas multinational ENI, with barely disguised characters and implications of corruption and state collusion. Petrolio was published posthumously after Pasolini’s murder.

Whether killed for his work on Petrolio or other reasons, the brutality of Pasolini’s murder and the evidence of an official cover-up echo the circumstances of many assassinations of modern-day environmentalists and land rights defenders, with Global Witness documenting unprecedented homicide rates in recent years. Pasolini’s frequent critiques of consumerist culture and exposure of power and scandal in the fossil fuel industry also reflect current debates in a critical global moment, as we find ourselves dealing with more and more serious impacts of climate change and environmental destruction.

As an homage to Petrolio, the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona – MACBA will host an open seminar this week entitled Petróleo as part of its program for independent studies. The seminar features a panel of international speakers including ACKnowl-EJ member Dr. Leah Temper, and will explore the collision course between economic growth and the limits of bio-physics, pinpointing the first point of impact in energy and liquid fuels. As a space for “learning, reflection, debate and political and poetic action about the exceptionality of our time”, the seminar aims to address four political and theoretical goals: a precise diagnosis of our excesses, a debate on the future of economic growth; the dissolution of political regimes and production of subjectivities typical of post-Fordism, and mapping of embryonic forms that prefigure eco-social relationships adapted to a world without fossil fuel.

Leah Temper’s presentation, A History of Global Socio-Metabolic Pathology Seen from Socio-Ecological Conflicts, will narrate the growing metabolic rupture between humans and nature. Through a narrative of both historical conflicts at the commodity frontiers as well as new emerging areas of conflict such as geo-engineering, carbon offsetting and the commodification of waste she will argue that the ‘green economy’s’ proposed solutions do not challenge root causes of the inevitable systemic collapse, and instead further marginalize the most vulnerable. Instead, she will point to existing alternatives that provide possible paths to follow for a necessary transformation to overcome the metabolic gap.

Leah’s presentation will take place at the evening of May 26th at 7:30. For a full event description and agenda, click here.

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