What is the role of critical theory today and who is it for? What kind of maps can theory provide in the context of entrenched capitalist crisis? These are some of the questions posed by this seminar series.
In the aftermath of various mutations of twentieth-century 'critical theory' (Frankfurt School, 'French Theory', etc.), proponents of 'postcritique' have argued that critical theory has 'run out of steam'. Instead, this seminar series starts from the premise that 21st-century crisis has also generated dynamic new ways of reconsidering these questions. A critical theory of the present is necessarily a crisis theory.
In this session, Deborah Cowen will give a talk entitled ‘Crisis in Motion’:
As monuments to colonial and racial capitalist violence come crashing down around the world, calls build for deeper engagement not only with the symbols of imperialism, but with their defining socio-technical systems. Infrastructures are systems assembled to sustain and expand reproduction, but to whom and to what do they give life? This talk tracks the infrastructures of broken worlds. It looks at a set of entangled struggles over the imperial logistics of circulation and containment, locates crisis in motion, and considers forms of futurity and queer collectivity anchored in infrastructure’s refusal, reconfiguration, and repair.
Deborah Cowen teaches in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Deb's work is concerned with the intimate life of war in ostensibly civilian spaces, the logistics of supply chain and racial capitalism, and the contested geographies of settler colonial infrastructure. The author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade and Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada, Deb also co-edited War, Citizenship, Territory and Digital Life in the Global City: Contesting Infrastructures, and with Katherine McKittrick and Simone Browne co-edits the Duke University Press book series Errantries.