Episode 1: The Curse of Berlin – a conversation with Adekeye Adebajo
Through sorcery and extraction, the EURO–VISION series begins with Prof Adekeye Adebajo, Director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg. The conversation focuses on the history of extraction between the European and the African continent, which has laid the groundwork for the Critical Raw Materials Initiative to take shape. A key event in this genealogy is the Berlin Conference (1884-85), led by the Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, during which plenipotentiaries of fourteen states — none of which were from Africa — assembled to discuss the partition of the African continent. After a century and a half ago this meeting continues to shape Africa’s borders today, as well as its governance, its economy, its international relations, and the extraction of its materials. The latter of which is often either towards Europe, or to benefit European-owned companies. Based on Adebajo’s monograph, The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War, we delve into the extent of von Bismarck’s legacy and the significance of this event in contemporary international affairs.
Episode 2: EURAFRICA — a conversation with Stefan Jonsson and Peo Hansen
In this episode we consider how the very foundation of the EU was grounded on an extractivist model. In their book Eurafrica, the Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism, Prof. Peo Hansen and Prof. Stefan Jonsson, debunk the theory of what they refer to as the “Immaculate Conception of the European Union formation”, one where a group of benevolent Western European leaders chose to set aside nationalist rivalries to unite for peace, democracy and freedom, to one where the cooperation of European states to no little extent was predicated upon the exploitation of African resources, which could be better accomplished through a coordinated effort.
This institutionalised the colonies’ role as purveyors of raw materials. Hansen and Jonsson have summarised it as follows: “Eurafrica is able to make sense both of the political and discursive discontinuity and the infrastructural or economic continuity between the late colonial period and an emerging Neo-colonial globalisation.” This is supported by archival research, foremost into the inter-governmental negotiations that led up to the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and numerous other sources. As one analyst put it in 1957: “It is in Africa that Europe will be made”.
Episode 3: Colonial Currencies & Other Investment Stratagems — a conversation with Ndongo Samba Sylla
After developing an understanding of the Berlin Conference’s implications, of the concept of Eurafrica, and of how the European Integration project was truly founded in the previous episodes, we wanted to understand more about how these structures have continued, and how they have been transformed and institutionalised in contemporary international relations. One fundamental example of this is the Franc of the Financial Community of Africa (CFA). We invited Ndongo Samba Sylla, a development economist at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Dakar (Senegal), who recently co-authored Africa’s Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story with Fanny Pigeaud (published by Pluto Press), onto the podcast to discuss these issues with us.
Episode 4: Terraqueous Territoriality — a conversation with Liam Campling
This episode focuses on modes of maritime extraction that continue legacies of colonial rule. In discussion with Liam Campling we explore some of the legal and economic infrastructures that support and perpetuate forms of pelagic extractivism, such as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) among others, based on his recent book, co-authored with Alejandro Colás, Capitalism and the Sea: the Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World. As the EU has the third largest fishing fleet in the world, the majority of which belongs to companies registered in Spain, fisheries become a paramount resource to consider. Like most states, the EU approaches marine natural resources using mechanistic lenses such as input/output paradigms. This is exemplified in the usage of the word ‘stock’ to designate populations of fish. Understanding oceanic spaces as resources that can be measured like an inventory exists within a form of marine management which has facilitated the industrial, long-haul fishing responsible for much of today’s overfishing. This episode focuses on the specific tools and agreements that enable overfishing, bringing its logic to the Global South in a gold-rush for resources.
Episode 5: Artisanal Fisheries & the Art of Unthinking — a conversation with Epifania Amoo-Adare, Nii Ayitey Sackey & Solomon Sampa
Previous episodes have focused on certain measures of conservation in fisheries, such as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), which were historically put in place to protect domestic industries rather than fish populations. These measures often reinforce legacies of pelagic extraction. This episode focuses on the situation from the perspective of Ghanian artisanal fisherfolk. Their testimonies are in conversation with Dr Epifania Amoo-Adare, an artist, ‘renegade’ architect, pedagogue and researcher based in Accra (Ghana) who is currently engaged in what she describes as the “art of unthinking”. In this episode, we join Amoo-Adare in the art of unthinking, where the very idea of ‘development’ is questioned in a discussion of Ghana’s depleting marine landscape, the othering of artisanal fishermen, fish mothers and their fishmongers, which ends by the outlining of fundamentally non-extractive alternative modes of coexistence.
Episode 6: Red Gold Rush — a conversation with Jennifer Telesca
In the previous episode, we considered legacies of pelagic extraction from the perspective of artisanal fisherfolk, and discussed how to begin unthinking and unknowing these extractive ontologies. In the following, with Dr Jennifer Telesca we focus on the role of institutions tasked with conservation management in ‘managing extinction’. We discuss how marine policymaking has contributed to the accelerating extraction of maritime life. In her recent article, ‘Fishing for the Anthropocene: Time in Ocean Governance‘, she denounces the role of managerial capitalism, armed with bleak yet powerful persuasive tools such as visual charts, scientific models and statistical formulas, which together “plan, measure and quantify time as an exercise of power at sea”. In this vein, our discussion will focus on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and how it has managed and administered the extinction of the blue fin tuna, which is the focus of her recent book, Red Gold. We also consider modes of decentrering the legal spaciest policies by redefining value systems based on multispecies respect and environmental justice.
Episode 7: Circulation — a conversation with Nishat Awan
In our last episode, we considered how institutions such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) are managing the extinction of the bluefin tuna, which is emptying the seas and leading to the forced displacement of fisherfolk, namely, that are traditionally living from the wildlife in those seas. In this episode we consider how this resource depletion affects those communities, as well as the wider infrastructures of extraction which they are a part of. Together with Dr Nishat Awan, who leads the research project Topological Atlas at TU Delft. Topological Atlas produces visual counter-geographies that combine digital mapping and storytelling techniques with a participative approach, attending to those who are at the margins of traditional geopolitical inquiry.