Ghosts in the urban sacrifice zone: (De)colonial relationality in Global North imaginaries

Jilt Jorritsma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The abandonment of urban areas in anticipation of climate change constitutes a kind of ghosting: a veil is drawn that divides spaces of being (that are valued and preserved) from spaces of non-being (that are deemed expendable and ‘dead’). These spaces of non-being can be understood as the ‘sacrifice zones’ of a capitalist worldview that orders the world through simplified dualistic categories. Opposed to this sacrificial logic, David Farrier has proposed a relational way of thinking that haunts the dualisms of capitalist modernity via spectres of human-nonhuman entanglement. Building on existing work from decolonial and Black studies, this paper extends understandings of such entanglements by exposing how they are tied up with racial and colonial logics. It does so by focusing on two Anthropocene imaginaries that ‘open up’ the city as a place haunted by complex relationality. First, my reading of Jan van Aken’s ‘Proximale Falanx’ (2019) shows how its portrayal of a submerged Amsterdam can be read as an Anthropocene imaginary of relationality but is also haunted by colonial paradigms. Second, my reading of Teju Cole’s Open City (2011) expands this narrow understanding of the climate crisis by articulating decolonial ways of being in New York City.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1605-1623
Number of pages19
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Black Anthropocene
  • deep time
  • pluriversality
  • postcolonialism
  • Relationality
  • urban nature


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