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After Us

A World Without Palestinians

- By Devin Atallah and Sarah Ihmoud

Malak Mattar, When Family Is the Only Shelter
(painted during the 2021 assault on Gaza).

A massacre is unfolding in Rafah, where the population of two-thirds of the besieged Gaza strip—over 1.5 million Palestinians—has been forcibly displaced. News that the Egyptian state is building a prison camp to receive Palestinians, presumably after the impending Israeli ground invasion will have shocked the conscience of many, while footage already emerging day after day is harrowing: body parts strewn on the road; families, their homes, and a mosque burned to piles of ash; the shredded corpse of a young girl hanging off a wall, where it had been thrown by a blast. For Palestinians across the globe who are waiting, watching, and hanging on every moment, the feeling of...

After Us

Poisoned Land (Earth Primer #10)

- By Giacomo Sartori

I had grown accustomed to earthy alpine soils, with their scent of moss and sap. Then, without warning, I suddenly found myself dealing with the soils of a valley lined with the disciplined rows of apple orchards covering every wedge of the wavy hillsides, even the steepest slices, as far as the eye could see. The growers evidently had zero tolerance for sloping or uneven terrain: before lining up their rows of dwarf trees, they’d shave down the slopes with heavy machinery, leaving them perfectly flat. They clearly wanted them to keep up with the times, to fit in with the geometrically shaped concrete warehouses used for sorting and conserving the produce, and with the futuristic malls of the more flourishing cities.

With such measures, they managed to ravage forever lands...

After Us

Color (Earth Primer #9)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Photo by Giacomo Sartori: North Algeria, a typical Mediterranean sequence. Light-colored bumps caused by erosion, red soil on the hillsides, dark soil in the hollows.)

(Earth Primer #8)

The hues we have in our heads for landscapes often spring forth from the colors of their soils. Left uncultivated, vegetation would cover such shades over, but plowing and working the soil slam them in our face, as happens with open wounds. At that point, they have the upper hand—proud of their autocratic imprint on the surroundings, of their claim to be the source of beauty. One thinks of the blood-red soils of the Mediterranean or the dazzling clays cut into Appenine ravines. Often, however, the impact is...

After Us

Shit (Earth Primer #8)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Dung: Photo from

(Earth Primer #7)

From its earliest days, one of the agriculture’s main problems has been giving back to the earth the organic matter that it steals from it. Harvesting seeds, tubers, and fruit (e.g., wheat grain, potatoes, and apples), we take organic matter away from the fields. And in one way or another, this substance must be restored to it, if one wants to maintain the agrosystem—and this is the technical term, given the extensive parallels with the ecosystem—in a sound and stable condition, and not deplete it further each year. The more vegetable matter...

After Us

Water (Earth Primer #7)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(RER Ambiente: Erosion on a hillside in Emilia-Romagna.)

(Earth Primer #6)

During rainstorms, soil gets soaked by water, which it then retains within its most minute pores, acting as a reservoir. To achieve their ends, which include bringing nutrients all the way up to the leaves, the roots of plants draw water out, little by little, from these small tubes. Because water from the earth contains the mineral sustenance that plants feed on—it provides the delivery service. So, that is its first function: storing a mineral-rich reserve of water in its capillaries, to make it...

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