Friday, 19 February 2016



with Andreas Malm

5pm (5.15 start) - 6.45pm, Tuesday 1st March
Room 1, Mill Lane Lecture Theatres
Fossil capital is the creation of profit by means of fossil energy. Or, as the CEO of ExxonMobil recently put it: “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do.” For two centuries, this credo has informed the actions of capitalists of all hues: if I can dig up fossil fuels or burn them and make money, than that’s what I want to do – and après moi, le deluge. As we are now experiencing the early phases of that deluge, we have reason to look back and ask: how did fossil capital seize hold of this planet? This talk will focus on the birth of the phenomenon in the country of Britain in the early nineteenth century. It will deal, more precisely, with the transition from water to steam in British industry: the key moment when a fossil fuel was first connected, via a prime mover for impelling machines, to the production of commodities. Why did manufacturers abandon water and pick up steam? While offering some answers to that question, this talk will pose some new questions on what could possibly be done today to achieve a complete shift to renewable energy and rid the earth of fossil capital.
Andreas Malm teaches human ecology at Lund University, Sweden. His work has appeared in journals such as Environmental History, Historical Materialism, Antipode and Organization & Environment. He is the author, of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming, and with Shora Esmailian, of Iran on the Brink: Rising Workers and Threats of War, and of half a dozen books in Swedish on political economy, the Middle East and climate change.
This is the fifth of our Critical Theory and Practice seminars this year. The aim of these seminars is to integrate radical theory with political practice and activism. Each consists of a presentation followed by a Q&A session (and trip to the Anchor pub round the corner). We record each session, so if you can't make it, like our pages so you get updated once the video is uploaded. Organised with the help of Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) and Cambridgeshire Left.
Upcoming talks for Lent 2016 (see our termcard for more)

Tuesday 8 March, Mill Lane Lecture Room 6
The theory and practice of decolonizing higher education, from South Africa to the UK

Arathi Sriprakash (Faculty of Education Cambridge)
Adam Branch (Politics, Cambridge)
Robbie Shilliam (Politics, Queen Mary)
Ruchi Chaturvedi (Sociology, Cape Town)
Suren Pillay (Humanities, Western Cape)
Activist From Rhodes Must Fall Oxford

For more on our upcoming events:

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