Political Geologies

Architectures of Extraction as Landscapes of Resistance


If architecture can be understood as the embodiment of power structures and the reification of decision making processes, then the anthropocence could also be viewed as ideology frozen in geology. The potential for an architectural interest in the anthropocene is that it may lead the profession away from the grip of the ‘god trick’ -what Donna Haraway describes as the “conquering gaze from nowhere” personified in the figure of the architect as the creative genius producing buildings, neighbourhoods, entire cities even, from the all seeing vantage point of their drawing board or computer screen. The exhausted spaces of material production and extraction are also landscapes of intent with their own specific design logic, influenced by a myriad of complex factors, but they have a form which is fluid and evolving, challenging the fixed nature of architecture.

An engagement with the territories of exploitation which are essential for our current standard of urban living (sites which could also be called sacrifice zones) could allow us to critically interrogate current notions of sustainability, with its fixation on growth, urban development and smart technology, and open up a dialogue with the earths ecological processes which point to a different path towards avoiding ecological catastrophe. A path which could once again embrace the emancipatory power of an unmade future and allow us to imagine the possibility of another world.