Modernity’s Dirt: Carbon Emissions and the Technique of Life

Author: 
Green, Louise
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor and Francis
Date published: 
2018
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Social Dynamics
Source: 
Social Dynamics Vol 44 No 2 July 2018 pp 239-256
Abstract: 

Under colonialism, the concept of dirt was frequently employed ideologically to make judgements about relative worth. In Africa, a particular European cultural idiom or "technique of life" was presented as superior because of its "cleanliness." This paper is concerned with modernity's "technique of life" at a particular historical moment when, as a result of environmental crisis, it is suddenly called upon to give an account of itself. I undercut modernity's claim to cleanliness by suggesting that what it introduces alongside regimes of order and sanitation is a much more globally destructive form of dirt in the form of increasing carbon dioxide levels. The CAIT Climate Data Explorer is a website that compares carbon dioxide emissions across a range of categories. This paper reads three graphs generated by this website as incomplete figures for making visible modernity's "technique of life." Realist fiction, read as a supplement to the climate graph records, is able to reinvest some of the abstract categories employed by the climate data tool - transport, fugitive emissions and electricity use - with the details that characterise particular techniques of life and to reveal the way they continue to be defined, at this historical moment, by narratives of development and consumption.

Language: 

CITATION: Green, Louise. Modernity’s Dirt: Carbon Emissions and the Technique of Life . Oxon : Taylor and Francis , 2018. Social Dynamics Vol 44 No 2 July 2018 pp 239-256 - Available at: http://library.africa-union.org/modernity’s-dirt-carbon-emissions-and-technique-life

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