Guðrún Elsa Bragadóttir: ‘Preferring not to’. The Search for Oil in Iceland, Impotentiality and Queer Alternatives
In recent years, environmentalists have become increasingly vocal in pleas ‘not to’ directed at governments and members of various industries, who are not only capable of actualizing plans that would involve great CO2 emissions, but would also profit immensely from doing so. This article discusses these anti-capitalist demands for inaction in the context of the search for oil currently being conducted in the Dreki region out of Iceland’s north coast. Even though it did not meet much opposition from political parties, individuals and groups alike proposed that the government did not proceed with their plans to search for oil, often citing the latest and most accurate scientific research on climate change and the part oil plays in acerbating the problem. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s concept of potentiality will be explored to show the importance of ‘inaction’ in the Dreki region, which goes against neoliberal, capitalist logics of profit and growth. Asking corporations and governments to suspend their short-term goals of accumulating profit is asking them to fail when it comes to accomplishing the goals of normative, capitalist society. The power of those goals becomes apparent when analyzing the problem of global warming, as well as its causes, is not enough to cause us to react. In response to this problem, the final part of the article will discuss Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s writing on what theory can do to affect the world, as well as J. Jack Halberstam’s ideas on the importance of ‘failure’ within a heteronormative framework that does more harm than good.
Key words: search for oil, the Dreki region, queer theory, impotentiality