Kimberly Skye Richards obtained a PhD in Performance Studies from the University of California-Berkeley. Her current research examines how Indigenous and anti-colonial artists and activists use embodied practices to disrupt the development of new extractive infrastructure and foster a “petro-political consciousness.” She recently co-edited an issue of Canadian Theatre Review on “Extractivism and Performance” (April 2020) and has also published in TDR: The Drama Review, Theatre Journal, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and several edited collections.
Oil is a fulcrum around which many of today’s most pressing social, economic, and political issues can be analyzed and understood. In the twenty-first century, we are finally beginning to realize the degree to which oil has transformed modern life while entangling us in unsustainable colonial systems of extraction and dispossession. The increasing recognition of oil’s central role in modernity is met with the awareness that over the next decade we need to transition to new energy sources and new ways of living that enable us to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of droughts, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Extracting ourselves from our dependence on oil amounts to a social transformation of an unprecedented scale and scope; it entails not only to change the kinds of energy we use and depend on, but also a transformation in values. In this course we will consider some of the social and political challenges of the energy transition we face, and the accompanying cultural transformation.