Book launch: Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Routes/Worlds

Book launch: Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Routes/Worlds

Book launch: Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Routes/Worlds

Free admission

October 24, 2022, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Please join us at e-flux on Monday, October 24 at 7pm for a conversation between Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Yarimar Bonilla in celebration of the launch of Povinelli’s new book, Routes/Worlds (2022), out now from e-flux journal and Sternberg Press—and on sale 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, 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 (2021) 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.

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue. 
–For elevator access, please RSVP to program [​at​] The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space. 
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.

For those who can’t attend in person, the event will be livestreamed on this same page.

​​For more information, contact

Anthropology & Ethnography, Colonialism & Imperialism
Publications, Worldbuilding, Liberalism

Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University. Her books include Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016), Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (2011), and The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism (2002). She is also a founding member of the Karrabing Film Collective.

Yarimar Bonilla is a political anthropologist, professor, writer, and director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Both an accomplished scholar and a prominent public intellectual, Bonilla is a leading voice on questions of Caribbean and Latinx politics. She is a monthly columnist in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día and a regular contributor to publications such as The Washington Post, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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