Dr. Joy V. Fuqua
Associate Professor of Media History and Theory
Dept. of Media Studies, Queens College, City University of New York
Unmaking Treece, Kansas:
Zones of Sacrifice and the Remains of Extraction Capital
In 2012, Treece, Kansas was officially deincorporated and made into a nonplace, a wasted town. Incorporated in 1917 because of its rich lead and zinc metal deposits, Treece and several other small, rural towns that comprised the “Tri-State Mining District” together produced more than fifty percent of the lead and zinc that was used for munitions during World War I and World War II. Today, this area is known as the Tar Creek Superfund Site; officially, it has been declared toxic. The wasted municipality of Treece marks catastrophic geo-industrial consequences of capital’s continuing mutations. This presentation is part of an ongoing project focused on urban and rural sites of environmental precarity that share affinity, if not proximity. These US sites include: post-Katrina New Orleans, LA; areas of the Gulf South in the wake of the BP disaster; Dead Horse Bay, New York City; The Salton Sea, CA; Treece, KS and Picher, OK; Centralia, PA; and Richland, WA and many more. My talk focuses on two sites, Treece, Kansas and Picher, Oklahoma. Through archival, multimodal visual/sound documentation, and traditional paper form, this talk examines the ways that Treece and Picher, as emblematic sites and as undone places, defy remediation as well as aesthetic recuperation. However, even as waste, it continues to have at least economic value. Yet, Treece, cannot be fixed; it can only be.
Not only does mining, in Treece’s and Picher’s cases, make waste of the water, air, and earth, but it also deterritorializes the land, melding the toxic surface with the toxic interior (Chen, 2011; Hird and Clark, 2104). The vibrant remains of post-industrial mining, in conjunction with deincorporation, work in tandem to deterritorialize place and literally reconfigure terrain. Practices of undermining produced external and internal instability through surface collapses, as the ground opens up and folds the surface into the hollow areas. Treece, and other extraction ruins like it can be considered, following Valerie Kuletz, “zones of sacrifice” (1998). In a moment of neoliberal political tendencies in which the individual is championed against “big government,” these sites and others similar to them, can be understood as both symptom and cause of their own form of environmental/industrial disaster. Thus, in their wasted state, they represent another kind of disaster in which the vital materialities embody “thing-power” (Bennett, 2010). The heavy metals and other extracted bits are forceful and capacious in their decay.
This talk will be in English.
28.01.2016 | 18:00 - 20:00