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Residual Governance: How South Africa Foretells Planetary Futures

Duke University Press

In Residual Governance, Gabrielle Hecht dives into the wastes of gold and uranium mining in South Africa to explore how communities, experts, and artists fight for infrastructural and environmental justice. Hecht outlines how mining in South Africa is a prime example of what she theorizes as residual governance—the governance of waste and discard, governance that is purposefully inefficient, and governance that treats people and places as waste and wastelands. She centers the voices of people who resist residual governance and the harms of toxic mining waste to highlight how mining’s centrality to South African history reveals the links between race, capitalism, the state, and the environment. In this way, Hecht shows how the history of mining in South Africa and the resistance to residual governance and environmental degradation is a planetary story: the underlying logic of residual governance lies at the heart of contemporary global racial capitalism and is a major accelerant of the Anthropocene.