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Masterclass and ASCA Cities Public Talk by Dr. Deborah Cowen (University of Toronto) organized by ASCA Cities Project in collaboration with NICA

Detail Summary
Date 15 April 2019
Time 00:00 - 00:00


April15th, 2019

Public Talk: April 15th, 15.00 – 18.00 uur, Doelenzaal in de UB

Despite commitments to systemic and institutional change in the wake of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, ‘Canada 150’ celebrations proceeded apace over the summer of 2017. Festivities were awash with the language of reconciliation, but performed amnesia regarding both historic and ongoing state violence, including the very act of celebrating ‘replacement’. Indigenous people organized against the whitewashed birthday festivities, insisting that struggles over pipelines, damns, and drinking water offered a better diagnosis of ‘Nation to Nation’ relations. Drawing attention to the infrastructure that underpins contemporary settler colonialism, water and land protectors expose ties that are long and bind tight. In fact, ‘Canada 150’ also marks the completion of the national railroad on which settler state confederation relied. The CPR was famously referred to as ‘the spine of the nation’, but it was built on Indigenous, Black, and Chinese backs. This talk explores the key role of infrastructure in the formation and contestation of settler colonial space. It traces a set of cartographies that cut across nationalist narratives to foreground the violent ways infrastructure holds us together across time and space. Tracking the making of this ‘national spine’ through the transnational slave trade, indigenous dispossession, and violent racial capitalism, but also through work of resistance and repair, this talk asks what decolonial infrastructures might look like. 

Readings for public talk

Coward, Martin (2015) "Hot Spots/Cold Spots: Infrastructural Politics in the Urban Age." International Political Sociology. 96-98.

Kipfer, S. (2018) "Pushing the limits of Urban research: Urbanization, pipelines and counter-colonial politics." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 36(3) 474–493.

Murphy, Michelle (2013) "Distributed Reproduction, Chemical Violence, and Latency." S&F Online. 

Cowen, Deborah (2018) "The Jurisdiction of Infrastructure: Circulation and Canadian Settler Colonialism." The Funambulist. 14-19.


Masterclass: April 15th, 10.00 – 12.00 uur, Potgieterzaal in de U


Readings for masterclass 

Cowen, Deborah (2014) "The Citizenship of Stuff in the Global Social Factory,” in The Deadly Life of Logistics. University of Minnesota Press. 

—  "Logistics Cities: The “Urban Heart” of Empire” in The Deadly Life of Logistics. University of Minnesota Press. 

— (2017) “Infrastructures of Empire and Resistance” Verso Blog, 

Readings available by emailing: