Ancient forests turned to coal seams over millennia threaten to catch fire under the feet of mine workers. Urban pipelines built to carry LNG will become brittle and unstable if we start using them for low carbon alternatives. Soils that have slowly been drained of groundwater and turned to dust in mining regions are blurring the boundaries between earth and sky as they ride the wind. In this talk I draw on several case studies to look at how nonliving nonhuman actors, such as coal, hydrogen, and dust, exert social and political influence over industrial landscape operations and planning. I explore the capacity of these actors to possess and demonstrate liveliness through an engagement with Kathryn Yusoff and Elizabeth Povinelli’s discussions of White Geology and the Carbon Imaginary, respectively, arguing that nonliving matter has the capacity to both disrupt human operations and to have its agency co-opted within social or political processes. Finally, I highlight the social and environmental justice implications of failing to recognise or question the enrolment of material agencies into planning discourses.
Dr Amelia Hine is an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong, working on the Discovery Project Continuity and change in the Australian industrial landscape. Her research and practice have focused on identifying complex networks and relationships that are shaped by and influence industrial landscape planning. Drawing on her background in human geography, design, and museology, she has developed an interdisciplinary research agenda with an emphasis on the social and material aspects of industrial futures and experimental methods for engaging with challenging and remote sites.