The Universal Right to Breathe

Drawing from the present pandemic and the sociopolitical context that precedes and accompanies it, philosopher Achille Mbembe unfolds a reflection that traces a path of possibility to motivate a common political movement, nourished by the awareness of that planetary capacity—often taken for granted—that makes life possible.

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  1. Looking back to the term’s origins as a mid-twentieth-century architectural movement, I have defined brutalism here as a contemporary process by which “power constitutes, expresses, reconfigures, acts, and reproduces itself as a geomorphic force.” How does it do so? Through processes that include “fractur[ing] and cracking,” the “emptying of vessels,” “perforation,” and the “expulsion of organic matter,” in a word, what I call “exhaustion.” Achille Mbembe, Brutalisme (Paris: La Découverte, 2020), p. 9 – 11.

  2. See Sarah Vanuxem, La propriété de la Terre (Paris: Éditions Wildproject, 2018); and Marin Schaffner, Un sol commun: lutter, habiter, penser (Paris: Éditions Wildproject, 2019)


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