ExterraneanExtraction in the Humanist Anthropocene

ExterraneanExtraction in the Humanist Anthropocene

Phillip John Usher

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780823284221

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Exterranean is a book about the extraction of stuff from the Earth, a process in which matter goes from being sub to exterranean. By opening up a rich archive of specifically nonmodern texts and images, this work offers a bracing riposte to several critical trends in ecological thought. Eschewing the self-congratulatory claims of posthumanism, instead engineering conceptual clashes between the materially situated homo of nonmodern humanism and the abstract and aggregated anthropos of the Anthropocene, arguing against the omnipresence of Earthrise-like globes in attempts to think at planetary scales, and shifting emphasis from emission to extraction, this book pleads for an alertness to the material and immaterial connections between the Earth from which we extract, the human and nonhuman agents of extraction, and the extracted matter with which we live daily. Divided into three sections (“Terra Global Circus,” “Welcome to Mineland,” and “Hiding in Exterranean Matter”), each of which approaches this entanglement from a different perspective, this book gives shape to a sense of the exterranean via readings of authors from France, Germany, Poland, and elsewhere as well as via discussion of mines, objects, engravings, and architecture. In dialogue with Michel Serres, the recent thought of Bruno Latour, and the interdisciplinary turn to the Environmental Humanities more generally, both historicist and speculative in approach, Exterranean lays the groundwork for a comparative ecocriticism that reaches across and untranslates theoretical affordances between periods and languages.