Becoming Planetary

In a time of catastrophic climate change, the “planetary” often refers to a universal figure, scale and approach to earthly troubles. Yet how are the planetary and planetary subjects not self-evident entities, but rather forms of collective responsibility in the making? By engaging with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s analysis of the planetary, and Sylvia Wynter’s reconsideration of the human as praxis, this article proposes a project of being planetary as praxis. Such a project works toward pluralistic articulations of the planetary, which would engage with difference and justice.

This text is a theoretical exploration that informs the Planetary Praxis research group. It also aligns with the ethos of the Planetarities series, which I co-edit with Ros Gray and Shela Sheikh through Goldsmiths Press.

Originally published in e-flux Architecture (October 2018) as part of the “Accumulation” collection edited by Daniel Barber. An abbreviated French translation of “Becoming Planetary” features in a special issue on the planetary from Multitudes journal. Abbreviated and reprinted versions also appear in an exhibition catalog with Arts Catalyst, and in the collection Accumulation, edited by Daniel Barber with the University of Minnesota Press.

Related presentations include “Being Planetary as Praxis” for “Narratives about Earth“, an evening of films and talks on 3 December 2021. The event formed part of ‚ÄúConstellations for Futures: Stories on Ecology, Kinship and Sciences‚ÄĚ by La Loge and Goethe-Institut Brussels.