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Unsettling the Racial Logics of Dispossession in Contemporary Colonial Societies

Thu, November 7, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hawai'i Convention Center, Mtg Rm 322 B

Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format


Settler colonialism and its eliminatory logics of dispossession structure the foundation of contemporary societies such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, yet the ongoing significance of colonialism as a global contemporary structure rather than a historical moment is often downplayed or erased altogether in a purportedly postcolonial era (Wolfe 1999; Day 2015). This is particularly true in a Latin American context, given the distinctions between British and Spanish colonial regimes and the ostensible incorporation of Indigenous and Black peoples into the national body politic through the ideology of mestizaje (Loperena 2017). This roundtable situates colonial distinctions between normative European rights bearing subjects and non-European abject Others at the core of enduring hierarchies and structures of power across institutions and experiences within contemporary societies. Participants analyze the ways in which material practices of racialized dispossession are contingent on historical hierarchies of race and how they produce new frontiers for capital accumulation in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Specifically, presenters speak to issues including the coloniality of disaster in post-Maria Puerto Rico through which catastrophic events deepen the fault lines of long-existing racial and colonial histories; the privatization of public education in post-hurricane New Orleans and Puerto Rico through the development of ideological models that rearticulate dispossession as reconstruction; the historical and contemporary displacement of Puerto Ricans as a form of spatial dispossession, as well as Puerto Rican women’s organizing around public housing on the island and the US mainland; the dispossession of race and language in a predominantly Mexican and Puerto Rican Chicago public high school where colonial hierarchies figure centrally in the learning of Latinidad; and the politics of frontier making in Honduras as a site in which to interrogate racial logics of the extractivist development agenda which renders Indigenous and Black peoples as barriers to national progress. These contexts become key vantage points from which to apprehend signs and spectres of colonial pasts, presents, and potential futures. Collectively the participants seek to draw on settler colonial critique to rethink the racial logics of capital and its corollary, dispossession, on the one hand, as well as to reimagine anti-colonial and decolonial theories of change on the other. Participants will speak briefly to each of the aforementioned themes, which will lead into a broader conversation with the audience about the contemporary valences of colonialism, racial capitalism, and dispossession.

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