Routes/Worlds by Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Routes/Worlds by Elizabeth A. Povinelli


Courtesy of Sternberg Press. 

September 19, 2022
Routes/Worlds by Elizabeth A. Povinelli

e-flux is pleased to announce the publication of Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s Routes/Worlds, the latest title in our series with Sternberg Press. The book is now available for purchase through MIT Press.

In the essays that she has been writing for e-flux journal since 2011, Elizabeth A. Povinelli has mapped the creation and dismantling of worlds formed by historical progress and settler colonialism—a historical unity that is also a profound contradiction in ideology. Even if corporations and nation-states now collude in the same Ponzi schemes, they still continue to transform space and time. At the receiving end of the ideological exhaust pipe, where transformation is inherited as deformation, the diagram flips to place brutality and existential exhaustion at the beginning. But the beginning of what? 

How about a new beginning, starting with modes of survival and persistence against, and within, a world built from deferred promises? This is a world that many in the imperial hemisphere are only starting to realize they’ve known for longer than they want to admit.

“How do we understand ideological or late liberal imaginaries as material infrastructures that violently rearrange material relations, leaving toxic residues in their wake?” Povinelli asks.

How do we begin with the sedimentations of ideology and the ideologies of sedimentation, whether we are discussing oceans, Anthropocenes, freedoms, or desires? Moreover, how do we rematerialize mental life as an effort of time and embankment? With whatever language we choose, how do we make a space between the ways in which dominant forms of power shape and reshape material and mental life?

In Routes/Worlds—out now from e-flux and Sternberg Press—Povinelli models a range of different forms of analysis capable of responding to these questions. As Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, she uses tools and experiences developed as a leading scholar, melting them down and reconstructing them with the touch of an artist—a role she has occupied as author of the graphic memoir The Inheritance and a member of the Karrabing Film Collective, situated within the life-world of indigenous communities in the Northern Territory of so-called Australia. Drawing new images to directly confront the old ones (the horizon, the frontier, the rhizome, the fold), Povinelli carves out fresh angles on apparently exhausted discourses, like the anthropology of the gift, and establishes coordinates from which to approach seemingly overwhelming developments, from the unexceptional election of Donald Trump to the emergence of the Covid-19 virus. 

Routes/Worlds might be read in terms of its remarkable perseverance in rearticulating large-scale systems of power and affect, even as—or precisely because—those systems stage increasingly novel forms of neglect. Today, it only becomes clearer that struggles to survive day-to-day challenges are most often struggles against sedimented raw deals whose disastrous logic needs to be traced over large expanses of space and time to become perceptible. In this constant struggle, Povinelli provides weapons as well as inspiration.

By Elizbeth Povinelli

Foreword by
Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Kaye Cain-Nielsen, Anton Vidokle

Noah Venezia

Series cover design
Liam Gillick

10.8 x 17.8 cm, 224 pages, softcover, 8 b/w illustrations.
ISBN 978-3-95679-566-4

Published by
Sternberg Press

Distributed by
The MIT Press

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