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Ecology has as its Greek root oikos, meaning the entire habitat, house, or family—an interdependent ecosystem. (Economy has the same root.) We know it now as the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment, the interdependence of humans and their institutions. As Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan notes: “Here is a lesson: what happens to people and what happens to the land is the same thing.” And this is what the work that follows weighs. The third volume of the documenta 14 South as a State of Mind concerns the constant correlation among nature, capital, power, and language. The contributions that follow are documents of language, or hunger, or both. Why “language or hunger”? Consider the mouth a border, a boundary, a threshold: to swallow or to speak. Emptiness or language (or their meeting). On one side, inside, one feels physical hunger, a void; on the other side, outside, one puts forth language (into another void, perhaps). Hence language—being born with one, or finding it again, or creating one anew, a kind of lexicon—can be a means of nourishment, while hunger can be a form of resistance. Indeed, the new essays, poems, scripts, artists projects, and older manifestos and parables that together constitute this issue of South articulate the necessity of language, while considering consumption and hunger as political and aesthetic facts and fields that determined our past and will construct our collective future. “In contemporary times,” Nabil Ahmed writes, “emergent ecological crisis is a paradigmatic negative moment with regard to the unresolved dark twinning of capitalism and colonialism.” And it is this dark twinning that is our focus. If, as Ahmed declares, attentiveness to environmental violence is necessary for the “formation of an anticapitalist political ecology at once structural, social, psychic, and environmental,” we believe that an awareness of the role that language plays in this formation, as complicity or resistance, psychic or structural, is equally important. Language or hunger—a kind of border. A question (for you), also.

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