As I set to work on the final chapters of the first volume of the Humanist Anthropocene, I come across this report in the Guardian about the oil fields in Guanabara Bay, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, discovered in 2006. The report notes how “oil-fuelled development is transforming this iconic landscape into a petrochemical and service centre for the oil and gas fields more than 200km offshore in the Campos and Santos basins.” The report talks of Alexandre Anderson, a fisherman concerned with the environmental impact of the oil fields—his activism has put his life at danger. The impact is at quite a scale: “Guanabara, it seems, has become Petrobras Bay”: “there are at least two refineries, four terminals, four shipyards, as well as countless storage tanks, support ships, service factories and underwater pipelines.” The report contains several chapters, which I don’t summarize here. I’ll forego obvious commentary and note simply how Guanabara bay was, in the sixteenth century, the heart of the French presence in the Americas, i.e. “La France Antarctique,” the home to “Fort Coligny.” What was once a site for colonialism tout court is now the site of extraction and a different kind of colonial presence.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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