Planetary Mine traces the remaking of the global mining sector in an age of logistical machines, planetary circulatory systems, and Imperialism ‘after the West’. With conceptual facility and an inspiring clarity, Planetary Mine offers an engrossing portrait of extractive supply chains and the infrastructures that underpin them. Working across networked front lines, and thinking with diverse and generative literatures, it insists that we must refuse the social and ecological destruction of extractivism, and shows us how and where that struggle is already underway. It rethinks the politics and territoriality of resource extraction, especially as the mining industry becomes reorganized in the form of logistical networks, and East Asian economies emerge as the new pivot of the capitalist world-system. The book talks about the uneven geographical development in the era of supply chain capitalism. In this book, Arboleda discusses several contemporary phenomenon like mechanization of mining, the emergence of Global Value Chains, especially in East Asia, and the use of state violence to weave an interesting and compelling story of extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

‘the geography of extraction that emerges as the most genuine product of two distinct yet overlapping world-historical transformations: first, a new geography of late industrialization that is no longer circumscribed to the traditional heartland of capitalism (i.e., the West), and second, a quantum leap in the robotization and computerization of the labor process brought about by what I will term the fourth machine age’

Guattari makes a similar statement in his book “The Three Ecologies”, taking about capitalism. He refers to Capitalism as Integrated World Capitalism (IWC) or better known as Post-Industrial Capitalism, which is the main object of Guattari’s criticism. He suggests that the capitalist industry is trying to make economic profits with nary a care for the natural resources, which has bought about a machinic revolution. He goes on to say that this industry uses mass media as their main weapon homogenising the common public to similar ideas. He suggests that this has led to a loss in hierarchical order, delocalizing and deterritorializing to such an extent that it is impossible to locate its source of power. IWC does not respect existing territorialities, nor traditional ways of life, it reconstructs production systems and social systems on its own foundations. IWC above all, is now at a fourth stage of capitalism, no longer oriented to producing primary (agricultural), secondary (manufacturing), or tertiary (services) but to the production of signs, syntax and subjectivity.

The worst disasters or the most flexible evolutions are said to be possible, in addition to natural equilibriums being increasingly dependent upon human intervention. Guattari believes that these new scientific and technological advancements are not resulting in the liberation of the “human potential”, but rather the advancement of a capitalist society in their “drive for profitability”. One such example is the proliferation of nuclear power stations in France which threatens all of Europe to Chernobyl style accidents.

Planetary mine uses resource extraction as an analytical entry point to theorize uneven geographical development. This is done in this book in the tradition of the World Systems approach, though it claims to break with the tradition of dependency theory and uneven exchange, especially insofar as Arboleda emphasizes that the processes outlined transcend national economies and are based on a global class antagonism. This book presents an understanding of imperialism as one of the forms in which global value relations assert themselves. The book challenges its readers to move beyond the site of extraction itself and consider how and why it “comes into being in the first place”. It seems that critical research could also benefit from a deeper engagement with the temporality of extraction, in particular the progression through the moments of the mining sequence, as ongoing research into the afterlives and legacies of extraction highlights. Given its territorial extent and financial imperative, such an engagement would necessitate an examination of the exploration and development sectors of the mining industry, a crucial component of critique if we are to fully comprehend when a particular space becomes a component part of the planetary mine.

Student: Shagun Modi

Faculty: Alex Hadley