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Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 4:30pmVirtual Event
In 2017, the government of Dubai announced plans to create the first human settlement on Mars within one hundred years. This article considers how the ‘Mars 2117’ project and its Earth-bound beta tests represent an increasingly global vanguard relationship to the materials we call nature, combined with a world-forming narrative where the goal of politics is about making a new kind of habitat, rather than the creation of a polis. Mars 2117 reveals the ways in which the present grounds for authoritarian legitimacy specifically in the UAE are, in effect, on loan, for which the future functions as a form of collateral for its present day governance structure, and is hedged upon the engineered anticipation of a people, a place, and most importantly, an infrastructure to come. This form of authority is being innovated to skip over political contradictions, environmental limits, and the precarity of a tumultuous and potential catastrophic future caused by the feedback between peak oil and irreversible climate change. Anticipatory authoritarianism is an answer, even if not a solution, to a dialectic of destruction created by contemporary global labor practices and carbon economy-ecology.