Enchanting Catastrophe: Magical Subrealism and BP's Macondo

Jackie Orr

Abstract


Remembering the late 19th century deployment of spiritualist technologies (divining rods, witching sticks) to locate oil deposits in the Americas, this visual essay situates U.S. petroleum culture in an occult genealogy of capitalist sorcery and supernatural materialism. The essay re-imagines the branded “BP” oil spill as an enchanted disaster unfolding across implicate orders of colonial phantasm, new subsea infrastructures of petro-capitalism, and the mundane inferno of deep time. How to envision the BP disaster—and its expansive subsea digital archive—as a ‘magic site,’ where natural and supernatural blend? What can magical subrealism offer as both an analytics of contemporary power and a style of performative feminist conjuring? How really to think, with oil, the thought that thought may be unhuman?


Keywords


petroleum culture; BP disaster; magical subrealism

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Copyright (c) 2017 Jackie Orr

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