SLSAeu 2020 Presentation
Hits: 1902

The organizers of this year's SLSAeu conference, titled "Anthropocenes: Reworking the Wound," have decided to run the conference virtually, which probably puts them ahead of the curve. Mark Bould, who was one of our keynoters at the Worlding SF conference, will deliver one of the keynotes at the conference (which was scheduled to take place in Katowice).

My paper's (planned) title:

Here's my abstract:

In my proposed paper, I will draw on Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee's notion of necrocapitalism—that is, "the subjugation of life to the power of death" (2008) and Justin McBrien's development of Jason Moore's concept of "cheap nature" (2015), which McBrien considers the underlying principle of what he calls the "Necrocene"—a capitalist system based on the "accumulation of extinctions" (2016).
My proposed paper will develop two interrelated points. First, I will suggest that the business simulation Jurassic World Evolution (Frontier Developments, 2018) confronts player-entrepreneurs with the necrocapitalist logic undergirding today's economic system; second, I will argue that the video game exposes the necrofuturist nostalgia the Jurassic Park franchise (and even more so the recent reboots/sequels) taps into.
Concerning the first point, Jurassic World Evolution makes playable—and hence asks players to perform—a cycle of creative destruction consisting of serialized processes of de-extinction and re-extinction, as dinosaurs are de-extincted only to be re-extincted when a bio-engineered successor that is "better, louder, with more teeth" (to quote Jurassic World's operations manager Claire Dearing) becomes available. The revenue players generate is thus founded on a cycle of extinction, de-extinction, and re-extinction—a quite literalized "accumulation of extinctions."
The second point will discuss the very concept of de-extinction, which is at the heart of the virtual entrepreneurship experience (and the Jurassic Park/World experience). After all, de-extinction promises a solution to our extinction crisis by offering a means to re-establishing natural harmony through techno-scientific means. Accordingly, de-extinction employs a past characterized by natural abundance (i.e., the age of the dinosaurs, in the case of the Jurassic Park franchise) to assuage fears produced by a future devastated by mass extinction. However, by confronting player-entrepreneurs with the necrocapitalist logic they engage in, the video game suggests that de-extinction does not promise a future defined by the overcoming of extinction and the return of natural abundance, but rather a future characterized by an exponential growth in serialized extinctions. The video game hence exposes the necro(man)tic drive undergirding the nostalgic yearning for a future return of the past, as this future transforms into a necrofuture.

And here's the pre-recorded talk:

Leave your comments


  • No comments found