Elizabeth A. Povinelli
Grant TypeWorkshop Grant
Institutional AffiliationColumbia U.
Grant numberGr. CONF-887
Approve DateMarch 23, 2022
Project TitlePovinelli, Elizabeth (Columbia U.) "Political Ecologies of the Ancestral Present."
This workshop examines the turn to ancestral socioecological and political traditions in Italy to find conceptual and empirical resources to face contemporary socioecological crises. We ask how collective artistic and ecological practices seeking to reorient the ancestral pasts toward rapidly shifting ecological futures intervene in a multiplicity of political forms, including Indigenous survivance, White Nativism, and decolonizing alliances. We focus on two Italian regions, the Alpine region of Trentino and southern tip of Puglia. Both regions represent historically impoverished regions and, although the trajectory of wealth has changed since the Second World War, both face the ecological consequences of climate change, mass tourism, and land speculation, and the rise of right-wing nativism. Climate change’s threat to the glaciers now threatens its economy as decisively as ecological damage from warming seas and monocultural agriculture threatens Salento’s centenary olive trees. And in both regions, white nationalist parties have arisen exploiting these ecological crises for political purposes. While set in Italy, this workshop is part of a broader research project studying Indigeneity and white nativism in the context of settler colonialism. Rather than a failure of late liberal settler critique, this project understands the rise of white nativism to be a part of a contemporary cultural counterreformation in urgent need of study.