The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization (Paperback)

The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization By Mohamed Amer Meziane, Jonathan Adjemian (Translated by) Cover Image
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"An extraordinary book. Mohamed Amer Meziane's breathtaking analysis of the making of fossil states opens to a new genre of history writing where the very layers of earth's riches are at its center."
—Ann Laura Stoler, author of Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, Along the Archival Grain

How the disenchantment of empire led to climate change

While industrial states competed to colonize Asia and Africa in the nineteenth century, conversion to Christianity was replaced by a civilizing mission. This new secular impetus strode hand in hand with racial capitalism in the age of empires: a terrestrial paradise was to be achieved through accumulation and the ravaging of nature.

Far from a defence of religion, The States of the Earth argues that phenomena such as evangelism and political Islam are best understood as products of empire and secularization. In a world where material technology was considered divine, religious and secular forces both tried to achieve Heaven on Earth by destroying Earth itself.

About the Author


Mohamed Amer Meziane is a philosopher, performer and professor at Brown University after teaching for 4 years at Columbia University. He is the author of The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization which won the Albertine Prize for non-fiction in 2023. His second book is titled: At the Edge of the Worlds: Towards a Metaphysical Anthropology.

Praise For…


"Young philosopher and historian Mohamed Amer Meziane, in his recently published book, argues that Europe, and France specifically, give themselves credit for having modernized during the 19th century. But this was the period of France's imperial adventures in the Muslim world, which - not coincidentally, he powerfully argues — racialized the concept of "religiosity," rendering it "uncivilized.""
New York Times

"The young philosopher Mohamed Amer Meziane has recently proposed a stimulating and iconoclastic argument in his book The States of the Earth (Des empires sous la terre). According to this professor at Columbia University in New York, the West is underpinned by an imperialism initially expressed by Christianity, in particular with the papal revolution. Modern secularization does not constitute the death of Christianity, but operates a transfer of this religious sovereignty into an earthly mission, with the colonial enterprise and the massive exploitation of the Earth. "The critique of heaven has overturned the Earth," summarizes Meziane - who calls "Secularocene" the concrete implementation of an imperialism consisting in realizing Christianity on Earth."
Le Monde

"By weaving unprecedented links between secularization, colonization and ecological catastrophe, Mohamed Amer Meziane lays the foundations of a work that is likely to open up radically new, and perhaps even revolutionary, horizons of thought"
Hors-série

"The consequences of this book are considerable. It will take time to meditate on them, to unfold them, to measure their scope."
Lundi Matin

"An extremely important and erudite book. Extraordinary in many parts, it will be discussed for a long time to come and is destined to generate new debates. It will be difficult from now on to think without some of the main concepts it invents, such as imperiality, which disrupts the way we write the history of modern political regimes. It is impressive in its erudition, in its knowledge - it is the result of a considerable amount of work - and also in its impetus, strength and commitment. It is a book that is not only content to assemble knowledge, to refine concepts, but that wants to defend an argument - several arguments in fact - and thus launch a discussion. This is what is going to happen and it is already happening. This discussion is starting and it will grow."
—Étienne Balibar, Philosopher, Author with Immanuel Wallerstein, of Race, Nation, Class and with Louis Althusser of Reading Capital

"An extraordinary book. Mohamed Amer Meziane's breathtaking analysis of the making of fossil states opens to a new genre of history writing where the very layers of earth's riches are at its center."
—Ann Laura Stoler, The New School, author of Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, Along the Archival Grain

"In this fascinating book, Mohamed Amer Meziane has brought together a number of themes in a thought-provoking way: the crisis of climate change, the rampant exploitation and pollution of the earth, the state and imperialism, and what Weber famously called the disenchantment of the modern world. It deserves to be widely read."
—Talal Asad

"An important and wonderfully written book. Its importance lies in the way it recasts the concept of secularization by redefining it in a rigorous and illuminating way. A marvellous historical and philosophical investigation."
—Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Columbia University, author of African Art as Philosophy and Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Dialogue with the Western Tradition

"In a fascinating investigation, the philosopher Mohamad Amer Meziane explores the roots of the secularization process, which led to the separation of politics and religion. And shows that the erasure of God was never the goal of this great movement, whose motive was primarily imperial and colonial. The flight of the gods was a collateral effect of this change of discourse, which engendered a new, predatory relationship with nature. Imperialism, ecological crisis and secularization are inseparable. An astonishing argument defended by Amer Meziane in a book as innovative as ambitious. Secularization is not, contrary to the way the problem is generally approached, a question of "disenchantment of the world" or "death of God". It is an instrument in the hands of colonial domination. And also, in an indissociable way, one of the deep sources of the contemporary ecological crisis, to the point that we should speak of the "Secularocene"."
Philosophie Magazine

"Mohamed Amer Meziane zeroes in on the half-life of western secularism, investigating the centuries-long fallout of replacing one kind of religion with another: racialized capitalism."
Lit Hub


Product Details
ISBN: 9781804291771
ISBN-10: 1804291773
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English