March 26, 2019
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$49.95 USD, £37.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Mineral Rites

An Archaeology of the Fossil Economy

Spanning the past two hundred years, this book offers an alternative history of modernity that restores to fossil fuels their central role in the growth of capitalism and modernity itself, including the emotional attachments and real injuries that they generate and command. Everything about us—our bodies, minds, sense of self, nature, reason, and faith—has been conditioned by a global infrastructure of carbon flows that saturates our habits, thoughts, and practices. And it is that deep energy infrastructure that provides material for the imagination and senses and even shapes our expectations about what it means to be fully human in the twenty-first century.

In Mineral Rites, Bob Johnson illustrates that fossil fuels are embodied today not only in the morning commute and in home HVAC systems but in the everyday textures, rituals, architecture, and artifacts of modern life. In a series of illuminating essays touching on such disparate topics as hot yoga, electric robots, automobility, the RMS Titanic, reality TV, and the modern novel, Johnson takes the discussion of fossil fuels and their role in climate change far beyond the traditional domains of policy and economics into the deepest layers of the body, ideology, and psyche.

An audacious revision to the history of modernity, Mineral Rites shows how fossil fuels operate at the level of infrapolitics and how they permeate life as second nature.

About the Author

Bob Johnson is the chair of the Department of Social Sciences and a professor of history at National University. He is the author of Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture.


"A highly original, imaginative book that offers an alternative history of modernity. Beautifully—at times, even poetically—written, Mineral Rites is animated by a clear sense of political urgency and a willingness to recast familiar stories in a new and original light. Creative and insightful."

- Natasha Zaretsky, Southern Illinois University, author of Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970s

"An evocative and well-written cultural analysis of the fossil economy that combines rich examples with profound questions and tangled ambiguities. Johnson examines a number of different and fascinating cultural texts to uncover the energy transition from an organic muscular economy to fossil fuels."

- Matthew T. Huber, Syracuse University, author of Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital

"Bob Johnson's Mineral Rites is a compelling and original take on fossil capitalism. With a historian's eye and writerly flair, he takes us on a fossil fueled journey through time and space. This book is an indispensable guide to our American addiction to fossil fuels—and possibly, how to extract ourselves from its deathly grip."

- Julie Sze, University of California–Davis, author of Fantasy Islands: Chinese Dreams and Ecological Fears in an Age of Climate Crisis

"In this fascinating, stunningly original book, Johnson astutely combines the personal with the political, the local with the global, the cultural with the material to chart the pleasures and pains of fossil capitalism. As the climate crisis continues to intensify, Mineral Rites offers an engrossing and provocative history of the present."

- Finis Dunaway, Trent University, author of Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images

"An exceptional book. Mineral Rites identifies vital energy modalities and traces their social life and mediation across the bodies, objects, affects, and cultural artifacts of fossil fueled modernity. With climate change in stark view, Johnson divines the historically uneven and destructive consequences of high carbon life, with its class, gendered, and racialized formations, in a stunning variety of practices, times, and spaces: the yoga studio, dinner table, ocean liner, highway; in historical attitudes to technology and in televisual and literary narratives. A thrilling and groundbreaking text in energy and environmental humanities."

- Graeme Macdonald, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, coeditor of Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature: Comparative Contexts and Critical Perspectives

9781421427560 : mineral-rites-johnson
256 Pages
$49.95 USD

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