Pembroke Center

Marah Nagelhout

Ph.D. candidate, English, Pembroke Seminar Graduate Student Fellow 2023-24


Marah Nagelhout is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department where she is completing her dissertation, Critique of Extractive Reason. Drawing from abolitionist feminisms, critical race theory, and political ecology, Marah traces the historical allegiance between extractive regimes and the repressive force of the capitalist state to alight on the structural legacies of the colonial mine as they are reproduced in the ongoing condemnation of Black and Indigenous geographies through environmental and state violence. By reading the prison, like the infrastructures of confinement and disposal that precede it, as an act of colonial conquest, her work shows how extractive recalibrations of land, labor, and law secure for the settler state and its self-deputized proponents a monopoly of violence that is (to borrow Walter Benjamin’s formulation) both law making and law preserving.  This framework enables an expanded understanding of environmental racism to consider race not simply as a category by which the effects of environmental violence are distributed, but—like the mineral substratum of global capitalism---the condition of possibility for the human and non-human degradations necessary for capitalist accumulation more broadly. This recalibration alters how we conceive of climate “justice” not only by stating the fundamental indivisibility between environmental, decolonial, and feminist movements, but by highlighting the importance of placing each discipline’s theoretical grammars in tension with one another to further denaturalize the assumptions and ways of knowing that distinguished these struggles from one another to the detriment of both inter-movement solidarities and theoretical inquiry.