WRITING EXTRACTIVISM

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Tromsø, Norway
contact email: 

We invite article-length contributions to a proposed special issue on the topic of writing extractivism. The journal Textual Practice has expressed its interest in publishing the issue. Please submit a 500-word abstract to Justin Parks at justin.parks@uit.no by April 15, 2019 if you wish to have your work considered for inclusion.

Extractivism is a term most often understood in relation to large-scale, profit-driven operations for the removal of natural resources such as petroleum, minerals, lumber, and other commodities. In an extended sense, the term refers more generally to an attitude in which the resources of the earth—natural, human, informational—serve a means-ends function, in which they stand as commodities to be extrapolated and turned to profit. Extractivism thus names a range of practices associated with the still-dominant logic of growth and acceleration associated with late (or neoliberal) capitalism, but beyond that, it names a habitus associated with life in modern and contemporary societies, in which our agency as subjects is thoroughly energy-dependent, underwritten by narratives of abundant resources available for the taking. 

Literature—and writing more generally—has been a fundamental practice in the effort to understand our relationship with the extractivist modes that all too often remain concealed from view even as they determine the contours of our lives. Our concern in the essays comprising this special issue will thus be with literature’s ability to document, expose, and critique the fundamental assumptions of extractivist thinking. How has literature, in various contexts and historical moments, been enlisted to render visible the particular histories of various sites associated with extractivism and its effects? How can such representations of specific sites of extraction be placed into dialogue so as to reveal commonalities across space and time? And finally, how has literature served as a catalyst in the collective effort to imagine alternative social structures and lifeways to the ones enabled by the fossil fuel economy? As the essays included in this issue will demonstrate, literature has played—and continues to play—a crucial role in exposing and challenging ideologies enabling the extractivist practices associated with the current climate-related crisis.