Research Seminars

Besides regular online exchanges, Rock/Body participants will convene throughout 2016 at three different UK locations for three intense interdisciplinary research seminars organised around the following themes and prompting questions:


British Geological Survey, Nottingham, 27-28 April 2016.

If we claim, with philosopher Manuel De Landa, that the development of bone was the way in which the older mineral world re-asserted itself within newer fleshy tissue, and that bones then return to the lithosphere as fossils to write geological records,1 in what ways can mineralogy help us open up and question the duality of flesh/mineral, life/rock? If rock becomes mineral becomes bone becomes rock, if organic compounds in the human body are natural minerals in the earth,2 can we explore how life and mineralogy enfold and cut across each other by approaching minerals as an interfacial zone between the geologic and the biologic?


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter (Penryn Campus), 22-23 July 2016.

If the mineralisation of soft tissue into bone is responsible for securing human motion, how can the interface of rock and body be further explored at the level of resource extraction and bodily exhaustion? While industrial modes of production depended on the dual extraction of rock and labour,3 one of the main ways in which embodiment overlaps with geological issues in the contemporary economy of oil and 24/7 global trade is around shared predicaments of resource scarcity and exhaustion.4 In neoliberal times, both rocks and bodies are ‘burnt out.’ As such, what new lights can be shone on the continuum between the lithic and the body by thinking together geological resource extraction and mineral depletion in labouring/performing bodies? If the bodies of miners are known to be affected by mining,5 if human migration can be mapped through tracing different strontium isotopes in the body,6 if medical geology is a rising field of research,7 and if osteoporosis and other forms of mineral depletion are often found in the high performing bodies of athletes and dancers,8 what other parallels can be found between lithic and human bodies depleted by mining and exhaustion, respectively?


College of Humanities, University of Exeter (Streatham Campus), 8–9 September 2016.

One of the big questions associated with deep time is how to make it tangible in order to mobilise communities and affect policy-making. If grasping deep time through abstraction is easy enough, “getting it into the gut is quite another matter” due to the way in which it transcends hegemonic modes of perceiving and marking time.9 However, if “durational aesthetics give access to other temporalities,10 could durational performance works bring earth-time and body-time closer in sync and, through that, trigger a new attentiveness to the temporalities of the geologic beyond the times of labour, trading, and individual life spans? If emotions such as awe have been shown to expand people’s perception of time,11 and if aesthetics provides a possible site for engaging with deep time,12 could performance art help develop new forms of subjectivity and “(in)corporeal affiliations” with the geologic?13



1. Manuel De Landa, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (New York: Zone Books, 1997), 26–27.
2. Hatten S. Yoder, “Geology: Significant Component of New Multidisciplinary Sciences,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 146, No. 1 (2002): 37–55.
3. Sara B. Pritchard, “Mining and Labor,” Environmental History 10, No. 4 (2005): 731–733.
4. Elizabeth Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011), 101–130; and Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. London and New York: Verso, 2013.
5. Darja Kobal Grum et al., “Personality Traits in Miners with Past Occupational Elemental Mercury Exposure,” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, No. 2 (2006): 290–296.
6. Brenda Fowler, “Written in BONE,” Archaeology 60, No. 3 (2007): 50–53.
7. Robert B. Finkelman, Jose A. Centeno, and Olle Selenius, “Medical Geology: The Emergence of a New Discipline,” Terrae 2, No. 1–2 (2005): 3–8; Philip Weinstein and Angus Cook, “Epidemiological Transitions and the Changing Face of Medical Geology,” Ambio 36, No. 1 (2007): 67–69; and Olle Salinas, “Medical Geology: An Opportunity for the Future,” Ambio 36, No. 1 (2007): 114–116.
8. Yannis Koutedakis, “Nutrition to Fuel Dance: A Brief Review,” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 14, No. 2 (1996): 76–93; and Karen Birch, “Abc of Sports and Exercise Medicine: Female Athlete Triad,” BMJ: British Medical Journal 330, No. 7485 (2005): 244–246.
9. Stephen Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 3.
10. Adrian Heathfield, Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Teaching Hsieh (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), 23.
11. Melanie Rudd, Kathleen D. Vohs, and Jennifer Aaker, “Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being,” Psychological Science 23, No. 10 (2012): 1130–1136.
12. Kathryn Yusoff, “Geologic Subjects: Nonhuman Origins, Geomorphic Aesthetics and the Art of Becoming Inhuman,” Cultural Geographies 22, No. 2 (2014): 383–407; and JD Talasek, Imagining Deep Time. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.
13. Kathryn Yusoff, “Anthropogenesis: Origins and Endings in the Anthropocene,” Theory, Culture & Society 33, No. 2 (2016): 3–28.