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In the spotlight: Emilia Roig

What does the apocalypse and/or post-apocalypse mean for you? (from your individual perspective; from the perspective of your discipline) 

I see the apocalypse as a radical rapture, in some respects as the only means to achieve transformation. Rather than referring to a particular timeframe, “radical” refers to the depth of the rapture. Apocalyse usually has a negative, catastrophic connotation but I consider it vital for the evolutionary process of our species and planet. The word conveys an idea of some imminent catastrophe which will take place in the future, but the world is currently undergoing multiple apocalyses – many worlds are currently ending. Eurocentricism has equated “World” with the West/Global North for so long that we believe that as long as Europe and the United States, and the most privileged people within these geopolitical spaces, are safe, the apocalypse is far. However, people in Congo, Sudan, Gaza, in remote parts of the Amazonia Forest and at the European and US-American borders are already undergoing some form of apocalypse. The relevance and seriousness of any apocalypse depends on the degree to which Capital is affected. 

Emilia Roig

What is your fellowship trying to achieve, which questions is it addressing, and with which methods? 

This research project explores the possibility of a money-free world and whether current developments point to an erosion of the global financial system. In our global capitalist system, power is irreducibly linked to economic and financial power, both of which determine access to political, cultural, and symbolic power. The global climate, economic, social, and political crises are intrinsically linked to a profound redefinition of concepts such as “value”, “worth”, “growth”, “wealth” and “poverty”. While the resolution of these crises will possibility entail the disintegration of our financial and monetary system, the end of oppression will inevitably imply a profound paradigmatic shift around the concept of power, including regarding the role, meaning and materiality of money. Current developments in the realm of financial markets and on the global political stage prefigure the erosion and disruption of our global economic system. Such a disruption could, in fact, lead to the end of the world as we know it. My research will explore the apocalyptic world that would emerge from such a transformation – and the opportunities it represents for humanity and our planet. 

The objectives of this research are to question the perceived indispensability of money in our late capitalist world, analyse whether current developments prefigure the erosion of our global money system, and explore which possible alternative models could emerge in its aftermath. 

How does the fellowship project build on or connect to your previous career or biography? 

I see this reseach project as the continuation of my previous academic and non-academic work. The career development strategy I have been pursuing over the past fifteen years is: do what aligns with your purpose. It may seem like my career path has changed many times, from working in international “development”, embarking on an academic career, to founding an organisation, and writing books, but the thread that is holding all these life stations is the deep belief that we can create a world free of systemic oppression and injustice. This utopian – or apocalyptic – vision is what has been driving my work so far, and will probably continue to do so many years to come. 

What were your first thoughts when you saw the call for applications for the fellowship? 

An instant pull towards it. I thought: How cool can a fellowship title be. I received an invitation to apply and started drafting my research project. It felt quite serendipitous and aligned with my plans. I had left the academia for several years but was ready to have a comeback for this particular project in this particular setting.  

What do you hope to take with you from the project and its results? 

I am planning to write a book, but plans change and life can surprise us. I am curious to see where it takes me, but what I hope to achieve is increased knowledge and expertise on this topic, and most importantly deeper trust in the future that awaits us. 

What are the aspects you are looking forward to with respect to input from other disciplines, other perspectives, and the exchange with the fellows and people at CAPAS? 

This cohort of fellows is very rich in perspectives and depth when it comes to envisioning a world free of systemic oppression. I am so delighted to see that disciplines such as feminism, decolonial thought and environmental studies are well represented. What I am particularly excited about is our thematic working group “Hauting”, which is dealing with fascinating topics that are usually left out of intellectual conversations, let alone academic debates, such as witches, ghosts, psychedelics, reincarnation and occult spaces. The exchanges so far have sparked interesting reflexions and I delight in the way academic conversations usually manage to bring us to a meta level so rarely attained in other political and intellectual spaces.  

To get some practical advice: What would be the three things you would definitely need in a post-apocalyptic world? 

The three things I’d need in a post-apocalyptic world are water, the sun and earth to grow food.  

What are some of your favourite pop culture references to the/an (post)apocalypse — whether its films, books, a YouTube channel, or music — what can you recommend? 

I would say my best source of reference are psychedelic plants such as ayahuasca and psilocybin. They have enabled me to envision a post-apocalyptic future in a much more realistic and profound way than the human mind alone will ever be able to imagine.  

 

Emilia Roig is a bestselling author and political scientist. She is dedicated to inspiring people to divest from systems of oppression and to shift collective consciousness. She has taught at universities in France, Germany, and the U.S. on intersectionality theory, postcolonial studies, critical race theory, queer feminism, and international and European law.