Friday, October 01, 2010

Out of this earth

Two reviews of Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel by Felix Padel and Samarendra Das. A long one from EPW The Bauxite Mountains of Orissa by Sanjay Kak and a short one from Material World
ALUMINIUM AND MATERIALISM by Danny Miller (via Savage Minds Excerpt from the second:
"In this particular case I didn’t even mean to buy or read the book. I have a student living in Guyana and studying aluminium who asked me to find her a copy. I started reading it on the tube train back, and that’s when it went thud. It overwhelmed me with its indignation, its insistence upon the contemporary necessity of informed critique about the sometimes extraordinarily savage consequences of material culture.

Specifically this is a book about the implications of Aluminium as a material substance. It documents the ubiquitous presence of the metal, not just in our kitchens but equally in our armaments. We couldn’t fight a sausage these days without it, or cook one. It then documents the convolutions of the aluminium industry, in its terms the Cartel, and its political economy. Real political economy: that explains all those links between the companies and high finance in London and thence why British development aid, so far from being charitable to the impoverished, is largely charitable to the interests of this Cartel. Mostly the book is concerned with painstaking documentation of the impact upon the indigenous tribal peoples of the state of Odish (previously Orissa) in Eastern India. There are hopefully not too many places where our desire for specific materials can be directly linked to murder and death by starvation. But this is one of them. It is also an exemplifying case of unsustainable ecological destruction."

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