Is the globe of globalization the same as the globe of global warming? While environmental connections have historically been the domain of the natural sciences, the political, economic and cultural infrastructures and connectivities of globalization, with which discourses of art are often associated, have been relegated to the humanities. In an effort to consider how these two perspectives on the planet’s interconnectivities might relate to one another, this panel brought together speakers from the fields of art, anthropology, and history, who each addressed the politics and ethics of scale, visibility, and violence. In the videos below, anthropologist Joseph Masco addresses the development of the planetary imaginary as one that grew out of nuclear testing and fallout, which in turn gave rise to an ecological imagination; historian Dipesh Chakrabarty discusses the differences between human time and geological time and the role of the arts in conceptualizing the Anthropocene; anthropologist Ann Stoler considers the environmental effects of colonialism and problematizes periodizations that consider the climate crisis as a recent phenomenon; and Jumana Manna finds connections between two seed banks, one in Aleppo, Syria and the other in Svalbard, Norway, in terms of histories of industrial agriculture, colonialism, and the fraught politics of preservation. Taken together, environmental and postcolonial considerations are brought together to consider the environmental effects of colonialism and the colonial imprints on environmental discourses.
The panel examines historical cases of the migration of images and knowledge across cultures and temporalities.
The move to diversify art historical narratives is often accompanied by a search for commonalities. Instead addressing a need to acknowledge radical difference and untranslatability, each presenter in this panel approached the question of the incommensurable, interrogating tensions between a global approach and site-specific study.
The discussion raises contemporary questions of restitution of cultural property taken during periods of colonial expansion.