In 1915, Alfred Wegener proposed for the first time the idea of continental drift: the set of continents are moving rafts, boats that carry life from one side of the planet to the other, above and below the planet. This talk will focus on one consequence in particular of this idea: it renders all mankind migrant, because what migrates is the very earth on which each one puts one’s feet. It thus becomes impossible to think that migrants constitute merely a small part of the population. There is no such thing as a settlement. The planetary condition is a condition of migration, it is the earth that migrates, it does not cease to migrate. And this migration is not so much a journey from one point to another but a form of perpetual movement – a drift.
Emanuele Coccia is associate professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His books include Sensible Life: A Micro-ontology of the Image (2016), Das Gute in den Dingen. Werbung als moralischer Diskurs (2017), and Die Wurzeln der Welt. Eine Philosophie der Pflanzen (2018). He is currently working on a book on metamorphosis.
The lecture is part of the current ICI Lecture Series ERRANS, environ/s. There is hardly a discipline, field, or discourse within the natural and social sciences nor the humanities that hasn’t long been touched and transformed by the notions of milieu, environment, or Umwelt. The recent revival and proliferation of ecological discourses can be understood, at least in part, as a response to the increasingly complete immersion in technologically in-formed environments.
The transdisciplinary impact of these new concepts has not yet been captured, nor is it clear that it can be captured, but while the life sciences play a prominent role in them (having adopted, in the 19th century, concepts from physics and transgressed into the social sciences, for example, as racist discourses and social Darwinism), they don’t operate as the leading science in this transformation. Instead, this process appears to be a multidirectional, non-hierarchizable, and errant movement, itself constituting a complex ecology of knowledge.
ERRANS environ/s contemplates aspects of this frequently divergent, potentially errant, and certainly ongoing transformation of not only the sciences or cultures of knowledge, but also cultural and artistic production at large. It will investigate the ways in which an attention to environments can have the effect of dissolving boundaries or making them permeable, questioning clear-cut distinctions, undermining naive ontologies, decentring the subject, folding nature and culture, and producing complex political ecologies attuned to far-reaching entanglements.
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