Book Launch: The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization

While industrial states competed to colonize Asia and Africa in the nineteenth century, conversion to Christianity was replaced by a civilizing mission. This new secular impetus strode hand in hand with racial capitalism in the age of empires: a terrestrial paradise was to be achieved through accumulation and the ravaging of nature.

Far from a defence of religion, The States of the Earth argues that phenomena such as evangelism and political Islam are best understood as products of empire and secularization. In a world where material technology was considered divine, religious and secular forces both tried to achieve Heaven on Earth by destroying Earth itself.

Mohamed Amer Meziane is a philosopher and intellectual historian. Currently an Assistant Professor at Brown University (USA), he received a PhD in Philosophy from the Université or Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. He has been teaching for 4 years at Columbia University and serves as a board member of the Theory Journal Multitudes. His first book, The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization (La Découverte, 2021/Verso Books, 2024) received the Albertine Prize for non-fiction in 2023. It examines how disenchantment engenders climate change through the colonization of subterranean worlds since the 19th century. He is also the author of numerous articles in international peer-reviewed journals as well as in various art reviews in the West and the “Global South”. His second book Au bord des mondes (At the Edge of the Worlds) is currently being translated. It questions the assumptions of the recent turn to the non-humans, arguing that there can be no “decolonization of knowledge” without a new kind of metaphysical perspective that delves anthropologically into the invisibles.