Rock | Water | Life

Ecology and humanities for a decolonial South Africa
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: June 2020
  • Dimensions and Pages: 152mm x 229mm Illustrations: 328pp; 26 illustrations
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-614-7
  • Rights: Southern Africa
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 385.00

In Rock | Water | Life, Lesley Green identifies questions and materials where new ways of
Earth governance and African well-being are acutely at stake: wounded contemporary soils,
which bind multispecies human and nonhuman worlds; cement, one of the planet’s biggest
contributors to global warming; carbon, which both joins and threatens Gaian critters and
their ecologies and economies; and oil and uranium. Each materiality is rooted in geophysical
complexities and in sub-Saharan African thought and cosmologies. Green’s book is important
to anyone who cares about the centrality of African environmental matters in their situated
complexity. Green searches powerfully for decolonizing ways to live on a damaged planet.
Haunted by ongoing colonial practices, this necessary book is also full of openings for what
can and must still be crafted together, differently.
— Donna J. Haraway

So many writings on the ecological crisis remain grounded in the opposition between ‘the
pragmatic cold analytical eye’ and ‘the romantic warm emotional heart,’ unaware that
this binary is at the very heart of the crisis they are analyzing. This book is driven by a fresh
participatory ethics that leaves this binary behind to introduce a caring relation that is
analytically sharp and an affective engagement that is systematically incisive.
— Ghassan Hage, author of Is Racism an Environmental Threat?

 

In Rock | Water | Life Lesley Green examines the interwoven realities of inequality, racism, colonialism, and environmental destruction in South Africa, calling for environmental research and governance to transition to an ecopolitical approach that could address South Africa’s history of racial oppression and environmental exploitation. Green analyses conflicting accounts of nature in environmental sciences that claim neutrality amid ongoing struggles for land restitution and environmental justice. Offering in-depth studies of environmental conflict in contemporary South Africa, Green addresses the history of contested water access in Cape Town; struggles over natural gas fracking in the Karoo; debates about decolonising science; the potential for a politics of soil in the call for land restitution; urban baboon management, and the consequences of sending sewage to urban oceans.

Foreword / Isabelle Stengers
Acknowledgments
Introduction. Different Questions | Different Answers
PART I | PASTS PRESENT
1 | Rock. Cape Town’s Natures: ||Hu-!gais, Heerengracht, Hoerikwaggo™
2 | Water. Fracking the Karoo: /K?’ru/k?-ROO; from a Khoikhoi Word, Possibly Garo—”Desert”
PART II | PRESENT FUTURES 77
3 | Life. #ScienceMustFall and an ABC of Namaqualand Plant Medicine: On Asking Cosmopolitical Qeustions
4 | Rock. “Resistance Is Fertile!”: On Being Sons and Daughters of Soil
PART III | FUTURES IMPERFECT 133
5 | Life. What Is It to Be a Baboon When “Baboon!” Is a National Insult?
6 | Water. Ocean Regime Shift
Coda. Composing Ecopolitics
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Lesley Green is founding director of Environmental Humanities South at the University of Cape Town, editor of Contested Ecologies and co-author of Knowing the Day, Knowing the World.

In Rock | Water | Life, Lesley Green identifies questions and materials where new ways of
Earth governance and African well-being are acutely at stake: wounded contemporary soils,
which bind multispecies human and nonhuman worlds; cement, one of the planet’s biggest
contributors to global warming; carbon, which both joins and threatens Gaian critters and
their ecologies and economies; and oil and uranium. Each materiality is rooted in geophysical
complexities and in sub-Saharan African thought and cosmologies. Green’s book is important
to anyone who cares about the centrality of African environmental matters in their situated
complexity. Green searches powerfully for decolonizing ways to live on a damaged planet.
Haunted by ongoing colonial practices, this necessary book is also full of openings for what
can and must still be crafted together, differently.
— Donna J. Haraway

So many writings on the ecological crisis remain grounded in the opposition between ‘the
pragmatic cold analytical eye’ and ‘the romantic warm emotional heart,’ unaware that
this binary is at the very heart of the crisis they are analyzing. This book is driven by a fresh
participatory ethics that leaves this binary behind to introduce a caring relation that is
analytically sharp and an affective engagement that is systematically incisive.
— Ghassan Hage, author of Is Racism an Environmental Threat?

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