Speaker Series - Speaker Series - Deborah Cowen
Friday, May 03, 2019, 03:00pm
Imprints of Empire: Infrastructure, settler colonialism and the making of jurisdiction
Deborah Cowen, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto and a 2016 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow. Deborah’s research explores the role of organized violence in shaping intimacy, space, and citizenship, most recently in the book The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade (2014).
Abstract: This talk investigates the contested production of settler colonial jurisdiction by following 'national infrastructure.' Refusing liberalism’s methodological nationalism and methodological settler colonialism (Tomiak, 2016) it instead apprehends border spaces as haunted spaces (Gordon 2008) and as genealogical objects, imprinted by empire. I ‘follow the infrastructure’ across imperial space, time and struggle, illuminating the extraordinary power of infrastructural systems in the making of border spaces. I track a set of circulations through Canada and well beyond, to explore how the making of national borders through infrastructure holds together seemingly disparate archives of Indigenous dispossession and genocide, of transatlantic slavery, and of unfree migrant racial labour regimes. This approach emphasizes the key role of infrastructure in the making of settler colonial jurisdiction, and thus the border as a space of imperial afterlives. Infrastructure, almost by definition, reproduces material relations, although at times in very queer ways. With an eye towards a future for borders and infrastructure otherwise, I ask: what does a map of infrastructure’s afterlives look like, and what is at stake in its refusal and in claims to repair?
3-4:30pm, TILLET 246. Followed by an informal gathering at Pinos in Highland Park