Decolonial {R}evolution: Petrocracy and Geological Modernity from Detroit to Palestine and Back

Nicholas Mirzoeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores what Grace Lee Boggs called {r}evolution—the horizontal construction of autonomous power from below by multiple subjects—in the context of anthropogenic climate change. This is a decolonial uprising from Haiti to Detroit against petrocracy, or the mutually reinforcing rule of fossil fuels and monotheism. I pursue a decolonial reading of the Holocene/Anthropocene geological epochs through an anarchaeological, visual, and discourse analysis of the excavations at Tell-es-Sultan, asserted to be the site of the biblical Jericho, to reconsider the “human.” The article interacts present-day, on-site conditions at the Palestinian refugee camp ‘Ein-as-Sultan with Kathleen Kenyon’s famous excavations (1952–1958), her discoveries and the museology associated with them, and the geopolitical and religious claims made for the site. I conclude by analyzing how “Detroit” is becoming the floating name for the non-continuous spaces of the displaced world, where displacement, drought, and counterinsurgency intermingle to deadly effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-343
Number of pages22
JournalAsian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • Anthropocene
  • Decolonial
  • Detroit
  • Palestine
  • anarchaeology
  • climate change
  • petrocracy
  • revolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language


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