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Underworlds – Oil / Coal as Sites of Global Dis/Ordering

When: Wednesday, October 25, 2023, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Where: Online

School of Law, Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context, and LSE Law School logo

Zoom details

Topic: The Underworlds Series: Oil / Coal as Sites of Global Dis/Ordering

Time: Oct 25, 2023 02:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 843 6115 7284

Passcode: 779079

As part of the Underworlds series, this event focuses on oil / coal as sites of global dis/ordering.

Rather than concentrating only on how the commodities of oil and coal are formally framed or regulated as objects of international law, this event aims to foreground the patterns and imaginaries of global dis/ordering that these materials generate. It thereby aims to trace the multiple entanglements between fossil fuels and the infrastructural and institutional conduits of global power. This also entails an attentiveness to the relation between the carbon world and forms of political violence, collective resistance, and the chains and geographies of global capitalism through which these unfold. How are histories of empire and its reverberations in current economic and geopolitical conditions intertwined with the materiality of carbon – as expressed in patterns of ‘coalonalism’? Which arteries of power and authority can be traced to the infrastructures of rule that the extraction of oil and coal require and enable? How can these be diagnosed and disrupted?

The Speakers

Lys Kulamadayil is an international lawyer and a senior research fellow at Helmut-Schmidt University. Her research interests include, among other things, minerals, climate change, ecology, corruption and money-laundering, distributive justice, and the structures and processes of the profession fields of international law. She has published in the London Review of Int’l Law, Leiden Journal of Int’l Law, Journal of the History of Int’l Law, and Transnational Legal Theory. In her forthcoming monograph The Pathology of Plenty: Natural Resources in International Law Lys explores the role international law has played in the extraction of mineral resources in post-colonial countries. Before joining Helmut-Schmidt University, Lys held a post with the German Federal Foreign Office (humanitarian affairs) and as an SNSF-funded Post-Doc in Amsterdam.

On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. In recent years, he specialized in the history and current politics of the climate crisis in the Middle East and the Global South. He is an Associate Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern & African History at Tel Aviv University, and the author of numerous articles and three books: Powering Empire: How Coal Made the Middle East and Sparked Global Carbonization (University of California Press, 2020), On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and Names Without Faces: From Polemics to Flirtation in an Islamic Chat-Room (Uppsala University Press, 2006). Prior to joining Tel Aviv University, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows and a lecturer at the history department at Princeton University. In 2009, he received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. He also holds an MA in Islamic Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and Joint LLB and BA in Law and Arabic Language & Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a co-founder of the Laboratory for the History of the Climate Crisis at Tel Aviv University, a research and teaching platform for generating a ‘usable past’ for humanity’s greatest challenge in the twenty-first century. He also co-founded the Social History Workshop, a weekly blog published on the Haaretz website analyzing current Middle Eastern affairs through the lens of contemporary historical research.

**Please note this is an online seminar and joining details will be sent the day before.

Event resources

The Underworlds Series - Sites and Struggles of Global Dis/Ordering

Engagement with practices of global ordering is often guided towards specific locations and legacies: the sovereign state, the formal sources and standards of international law, the intricacies of global diplomacy, the historical juncture and its (anti-)heroes, the international palaces of hope in Geneva, New York, or The Hague. These explorations entail ideas of where power resides and where it is to be unmasked or undone – ideas implicitly grounded in modernist geographies, temporalities, and subjectivities. Starting from the limits of these familiar perspectives, this lecture and workshop series traces the multiple ways in which these sites, actors, and events are cabined, crossed, and cut apart by alternative material arteries, lineages, and languages of global dis/ordering.

The series takes as starting point that authority and order are not fixed properties of specific actors or institutions, but the result of ongoing material processes of ordering and world-making. As such, it traces unconventional forms and sites of global dis/ordering – from raw materials to projections of hope – as material, infrastructural, and discursive compositions that shape patterns of power. The encounter between old- and new materialist, Marxist and decolonial methodologies and modes of critique is one of the key objectives of this series. Its aim, however, is not only methodological: it aspires to inspire new ethical and political openings that attend to our inevitable complicity in taking part in these processes, and reveal new modes of resistance and refusal, of struggle and sociality. These interventions are not narrowly targeted at the old nemeses of critique – the state, the truth, the universal – but work from within both entrenched and emergent material sites and practices of dis/ordering: oceans, oil / coal, breath, debt, commons, frontier(s), waste, hope, wild / feral, vessels.

Find out about all events in the series.

The series is convened by Marie Petersmann and Dimitri Van Den Meerssche and co-organised by QMUL (the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context) and the LSE Law School.

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