Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Marah Nagelhout

2022–23 Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in English
Project “Critique of Extractive Reason: Time and the Environmental Antiblackness of Racial Capital”
Last updated June 20, 2023, based on June 2022 biographical sketch


Marah Nagelhout is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation traces the historical allegiance between extractive industries and the repressive mechanisms of the state. It travels from industrial slavery and postantebellum convict leasing to inmate oil spill cleanup and the idle occupants of “toxic prisons,” to show how extractive zones have long been sites where exposure to toxicity is racialized through labor, and where antiblackness is renaturalized — through colonial archaeologies of race and geologic grammars of time — as the dominant mechanism for securing the accumulative reserves necessary for capital’s survival. Moving beyond the geophysical processes of mining, she identifies an extractive schema within the very value structure of capital to enable an alternative account of the state as that which produces and enforces what Marx calls “disposable time.” This is the time of the prison sentence, and the temporality of weaponized contingency whereby past extractive violence — be it policing or pollution — suspends subjects in anticipation of future violence. In so accounting, this work names the state’s foundational inability to contend with the destabilizing, displacing effects of climate collapse outside of its existing infrastructures of disposal and containment, highlighting the exigency for collective investment in abolitionist alternatives.

Meet the Fellows talk: “Critique of Extractive Reason”