World of Matter – Extractive Ecologies and Unceded Terrains

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February 20, 2015
Time: 9:00am-6:00pm

EV Building, Room 7.735
Concordia University
1515 St. Catherine St. W
Montreal (Qc)

A two-day symposium, held in conjunction with the opening of the exhibit World of Matter: Exposing Resource Ecologies, at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, 1455 de Maisonneuve West.

The world of matter has been forcefully sculpted in the last several centuries by the twin projects of colonialism and capitalism. The very movement of human activity under modernity has rested on the formation of a standing reserve of nature, a category whose flexibility has variously expanded and contracted to include both humans and non-human others as targets for exploitation and extractive energy. Carbon industries, forestry, mining, agri-business, construction, mega-farming and fishing participate in worlding the world as mere matter, asserting deep and unforgiving property rights in dispersed territories around the globe. Nevertheless, at each point in this cartography of extraction one finds committed points of resistance and unceded terrains, both material and symbolic. This symposium asks how the fields of contemporary art and media studies, indigenous studies and resistance movements, critical environmental studies, new ethnography and science and technology studies might bring into focus the globalizing dynamics of extractive ecologies. It seeks to build substantive discursive grounds for resisting incursions into sovereign land, denials of the rights of nature, and the persistent dispossession of indigenous and First Nation peoples. It asks, What unceded terrains precede and interrupt the excavatory depths of imperial ecologies? What interventions ensure the defense of land, labour, survival and species diversity in the globalized present?

Keynote lectures

  1. Dr. Darin Barney (McGill University), This Handful of Earth: The Prairie as Standing-Reserve
  2. Dr. Audra Simpson (Columbia University), Reconciliation and its Discontents



  1. Contestation—Dispossession—De/colonization: Scott Morgensen, Helge Mooshammer & Peter Mörtenböck, Nicholas Brown
  2. Oil: Imre Szeman, Brenda Longfellow
  3. Accumulation—Materials—Waste: Heather Davis, Adam Dickinson, Gisèle Trudel
  4. Forests: Eduardo Kohn, Ursula Biemann
  5. Territory—Intervention—Mediation: Amanda Boetzkes, Lonnie van Brummelen, Peter von Tiesenhausen
  6. Speculation—Extraction—Communication: Rafico Ruiz, Nicole Starosielski, Alain Deneault
  7. Relation—Narration—Witnessing: Mabe Bethônico, Zoe Todd, Shirley Roburn
    Co-organized by Krista Geneviève Lynes (Concordia University) & Darin Barney (McGill University)