22 September 2020

Thinking With | Macarena Gómez-Barris | The Extractive Zone

CONVERSATION | 22 Sept 2020 | 15:00 - 16:30 CET | Online

In this conversation, as part of the RCMC Thinking With series, Macarena Gómez-Barris will discuss her work notably in The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke UP, 2017) and Beyond the Pink Tide (UC Press, 2018). 

This conversation is part of the Caring Matters conference, which is part of the international collaborative research project Taking Care - Ethnographic and World Cultures Museums as Spaces of Care. 

We invite Gómez-Barris to think with us for she insists on theorizing the violence of extractive economies. In our ethnographic museums, we are interested in “mining the museum,” in connecting the objects within our collections to longer histories of resource extraction, of species extinction, of human and cultural degradation. At the same time, thinking the “extractive zone” takes these collections as possible sites for re-imagining other more caring relationships, more careful futures. 

Macarena will be in discussion with Ignacio Acosta, Maarten Vanden Eynde and Wayne Modest. 

How to join

We will host this event on two platforms.

You can either join on ZOOM WEBINAR. Or you can join us on our Facebook page.

To join via ZOOM WEBINAR, please register in advance for this webinar via the link in the sidebar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any problems, send an email to 

Please note that we will only open the Q&A on Zoom. If you have a question you would like to ask any of our speakers, please log in to Zoom. Based on time, we cannot promise to address all of the questions, but we shall do our best. 


Macarena Gómez-Barris is a writer and scholar of cultural memory. She is author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives which theorizes social life through five extractive scenes of ruinous capitalism upon Indigenous territories (Duke University Press, 2017). She is author of Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Undercurrents in the Américas, published by University of California Press. She is also author of Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (2009). She is working on three book projects, Latchkey, a work of fiction, and At the Sea’s Edge, a scholarly book, and a book that rewrites environmental history from the perspective of decolonial movements. Macarena is Director of the Global South Center and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute.

Excerpts of The Extractive Zone & Beyond the Pink Tide


Respondent Ignacio Acosta

Ignacio Acosta is a Chilean-born, London-based artist and researcher working with photography and film, in places made vulnerable through the exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation. He works with interconnected research projects that involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, audio-visual documentation and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance. Acosta focuses upon resistance to extractivist industrial impact on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, he develops work towards the generation of meaningful visual narratives. Over the last ten years, he has devoted to the understanding of sites and landscapes that, although often neglected, are of global significance: places of environmental degradation in South America and northern Europe. Through thorough, investigative and ethical practices, his individual research contributes to vibrant collaborations with artists, historians, political activists and Indigenous Peoples. 

Recent exhibitions include: Archaeology of Sacrifice, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2020); Tales from the Crust, Arts Catalyst, London, England (2019); Drones y Tambores, Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile (2019);  Litte ja Goabddá; Ájtte Museum, Jokkmokk, Sweden (2019); Game of Drones, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2019); Drone Vision, Hasselblad Centre, Göteborg, Sweden (2018); Mapping Domeyko, Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Poland (2018); Copper Geographies, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, England (2017); Traffiking the Earth, MAC, Museo Arte Contemporáneo, Chile (2017). Acosta is part of Traces of Nitrate, a research project based at the University of Brighton developed in collaboration with Art and Design Historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Xavier Ribas, which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). His publication Copper Geographies (2018) that stems from his practice-based Ph.D and has been published by Editorial RM.


Discussant Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde graduated in 2000 from the free media department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (NL), participated in 2006 in the experimental MSA^ Mountain School of Arts in Los Angeles (US) and finished a post graduate course in 2009 at HISK Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Ghent (BE) where he is a regular guest tutor. Since 2020 he is a PhD candidate at the UiB / University of Bergen in Norway.

His practice is embedded in long term research projects that focus on numerous subjects of social and political relevance such as post-industrialism, capitalism and ecology. His work is situated exactly on the borderline between the past and the future; sometimes looking forward to the future of yesterday, sometimes looking back to the history of tomorrow.

In 2017 he was nominated for the first Belgian Art Prize and won the Public Prize. He is represented by Meessen De Clercq gallery in Brussels since 2009 and is co-founder of the artist initiative Enough Room for Space since 2005.

Currently he is investigating the influence of transatlantic trade of pivotal materials like rubber, oil, ivory, copper, cotton and uranium, on evolution and progress, the creation of nations and other global power structures. The initiated project Triangular Trade traces back the origin of the different materials and follows their (r)evolutionary path as they are processed and transformed into 'world changing wonders’.


Program + Litte ja Goabddá

Sámi shaman with a drum. Drawing by Knud Leem, 1767; and Litte ja Goabddá [Drones and Drums], 2018
Sámi shaman with a drum. Drawing by Knud Leem, 1767; and Litte ja Goabddá [Drones and Drums], 2018

Livescreening of Litte ja Goabddá [Drones and Drums] (2016–2018) by Ignacio Acosta.

After the conversation between Macarena Gómez-Barris, Ignacio Acosta and Wayne Modest, we have a special treat for audiences that can stay on zoom a little bit longer. Ignacio has gracefully offered to share one of his works with us, live! After the official event ends at 16:30, please do stay on for a screening of Litte ja Goabddá (18:18" min) .

The film installation and photo series Giesse [Summer] resulting from Ignacio's research in Sábme, investigates the use of drone technologies by Sámi communities as decolonial tool to resist mining exploration in northern Sweden. Based on research visits and close collaboration with activists and Sami families living and working in the area threatened by the mines, the project explores the link between drums and drones as navigation and communication tools.

Please note, the work is best experienced wearing headphones.

Thinking With series

RCMC’s Thinking With is a conversational series that makes a commitment to a certain kind of collaborative criticality. This project complements several of our existing initiatives, as well as our attentiveness to the notion of “togetherness.” Thinking With arises out of the NMVW’s mission to contribute to world citizenship. For us, this ambition involves reflecting on how we might live with and among others in the world in more just and equitable ways, but also in ways that acknowledge that we do so ‘from’ drastically different subjectivities and vantage points. Thinking With then offers a form of joined-up problem solving that imagines a future that we can only fashion together. As such, Thinking With is a series that includes book talks, conversations with authors and makers, and specialists in the many fields that inform museum practice.

We draw on Mireille Rosello’s notion that companionship between and among societal actors, especially those who have different positions within our society, can only but be disorienting. Yet this companionship may, as Ariella Aïsha Azoulay suggests, provide us with methodologies to “unlearn imperialism.” For this reason, we actively seek out companions who challenge us, as an attempt not to reproduce ourselves, but to push ourselves and each other to create more equitable and just futures. This involves practices of de-centring, of provincializing ourselves, as we practice forms of worlding that take each other seriously. Ultimately then, the Thinking With series takes companionship as an assemblage of people, objects, and texts, so that we courageously ask ourselves to think all of our social actors—animate and inanimate—as part of the entangled unequal  world we grapple with. In so doing, the project explores the notion of companionship and disorientation, not to deepen hierarchies, but rather as a way of fostering a more humane and unprejudiced world.

Taking Care is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.