Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1474-2756
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0578



This chapter provides a close reading of Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s cine-essay The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar) (2015). Through the use of figurative language, alignment and speculative narratives Guzmán creates a ‘multi-directional’ picture of Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, its indigenous population and violent history over the last three centuries. With his choice of the essay as cinematic form he seeks to hold together, in Isabelle Stengers’ sense, questions that are complex and multifaceted; questions that are of archaeological, humanitarian or ethical concern and that require the input of many human and non-human voices and forces. In her booklength essay, In Catastrophic Times (2015), the Belgian philosopher encourages the sciences to approach a matter of common concern, such as anthropocenic change, via an ecology of practices. I see such ecological thinking in practice in Guzmán’s cine-essayistic work, in which human-centred events acquire a larger cosmological dimension to the extent that abstract philosophical questions remain worldly, that is committed to the material and embodied realities of the earthbound.


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