Thinh Nguyen, “To Prevent The World From Burning,” 2019, Rake, Branch, variable dimensions. Image courtesy of the artist. © Thinh Nguyen. CGU MFA.

Amid questions of planetary degradation, irreversible climate change, species loss, and other human and non-human borne crises, questions of “futureness” and “futurity” have become deeply pressing. Given our long histories of inequality, disempowerment, and displacement set in motion by the uneven violences of racial capitalism and colonialism, it has become increasingly evident that the possibility of resilient futures are accessible to the few but excluded for the many. This panel discusses new imaginaries for radical futurisms in this moment of ecological emergency.

This session features presentations by T.J. Demos and Jessica Hurley, followed by discussion with respondent Nadine Chan (Cultural Studies, CGU).

T.J. Demos will be presenting “Abolition Ecologies: Insurgent Universality, Solidarity, and Worlds-to-Come”
With reference to three approaches to the experimental aesthetics of abolition ecology—those of Thirza Jean Cuthand, The Otolith Group, and Black Quantum Futurism—this presentation discusses current modelings of radical Indigenous and Afro-futurisms and worlds-to-come founded upon social justice and environmental flourishing. Where radical imagination meets radical praxis is in the material forces of solidarity, the political form of belonging, more than ever necessary today in the collective battle against international fascisms and global neoliberalisms. While acknowledging the bankruptcy of Eurocentric universalisms, this presentation defends approaches to insurgent political alliance beyond identitarian fragmentation, including within and through political aesthetics of abolition—ultimately of racial and colonial capitalism.

Jessica Hurley will be presenting “Ecological Futurelessness”
This talk argues for the importance of apocalyptic modes and imaginaries for radical thought in this moment of ecological emergency, particularly for those peoples whose futures are most threatened by the unevenly distributed violence of racial capitalism, settler colonialism, climate change, and other forms of disaster. Drawing on interdisciplinary theoretical, literary, and artistic accounts of how chrononormativity works to oppress and disenfranchise Black, Indigenous, queer, and disabled populations, it offers a new theorization of apocalypse as radical futurelessness, a formal afuturity that can disrupt the normative time of social reproduction in which the future extends out from the conditions of the present. As contemporary thought begins to reckon with the foreclosure of its own futures by environmental and social crisis, this talk animates futurelessness as a starting point for thought rather than its end, as a place for struggle and resistance and somehow, impossibly, for hope.


T.J. Demos

Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, and Director of the Center for Creative Ecologies, UC Santa Cruz

Image courtesy of the speaker.

Jessica Hurley

Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University

Jessica Hurley at Edelstone on the University of Chicago campus in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, December 3, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Nelles)