[csaa-forum] Sherene Razack: Marking the body as placeless: Memorialising colonial power

Holly Randell-Moon holly.randell-moon at otago.ac.nz
Wed Jul 1 20:02:10 ACST 2015

The Postcolonial Studies Research Network and the Department of Media, Film and Communication at the University of Otago presents:
Marking the body as placeless: Memorialising colonial power

A Public Lecture by Professor Sherene Razack (University of Toronto) as part of the Colonial Attritions: State Violence and Social Forgetting symposium held at the University of Otago, August 5th. The CFP, below, for this symposium is still open.


Each chapter in my book Dying From Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries into Indigenous Deaths in Custody represents an iteration of the colonial story about disappearing Indians, a story that law sustains. In the settler’s version of events, all the Indians have vanished or are unable to thrive in modern life, leaving settlers as the original citizens. In chapter one I show that the police dumping of Frank Paul in an alley in the city of Vancouver where he was left to die, is the outcome of a long history of what Samira Kawash has described as the marking of the body as placeless, that is, as not belonging to the spaces of respectable citizens and thus as having no place. In his lifetime, Frank Paul could not be allowed to rest, to heal or to thrive in the settlers’ spaces. Instead, his body had to bear the imprint of colonial power, first forcibly confined to reserves and to residential schools, and then denied bodily integrity as he moved through the city of Vancouver. Branded as bestial, as a man who could only crawl, and whose life was lived on the edge of existence, Frank Paul was a presence that law establishes was only an absence, that is, barely human, barely alive, and thus reduced to the status in law of bare life. Settler sovereignty requires no less than its full share of disappearing Indians. The inquiry into his death tried its best not to confront the meaning of Indigeneity, retreating instead into long meditations on wasted lives and wounded flesh.

Colonial Attritions: State Violence and Social Forgetting

University of Otago, August 5th

Whilst formal colonisation has ended in many settler states, colonial ways of knowing and exercising authority continue in the violent policing and incarceration of Indigenous and minority communities in these states. In her landmark book, Dark Threats and White Knights, Sherene Razack writes poignantly: “Concealed in an apparently universal framework in which there is good and evil is a small piece of history—the history of imperialism, fascism, and racism” (2004, p. 157). Contemporary geopolitics and state sovereignty are founded on political and historical assumptions that Western liberal democracies represent progressive freedom and a benign and stabilising force in international affairs. Razack’s evocation of the ‘small piece of history’ works to interrupt state narratives of goodness that obscure the violence of settler colonial and imperial histories. This one-day symposium likewise seeks presentations that call for an account of state violence and a remembrance of imperial and colonial histories and their embodied, everyday effects.

Presentations and panels can address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
 - epistemologies of ignorance and forgetting in national and local narratives of place
- state violence and surveillance of Indigenous and minority communities
- racial and religious notions of belonging in the nation-state
-  the moralisation of state and non-state violence
- citizenship, violence and the ‘war on terror’
-  the role of social justice movements and activism in challenging state authority
- pedagogy and colonial narratives
- gender and sexuality in political and state discourses of equality
- tourism and the cultivation of nation-hood
- race, development and international aid work
- media economies, geopolitics and settler colonialism
- media bipower and necropower

Please send abstracts of 200w with an accompanying bio of 50w to the symposium organiser, Dr. Holly Randell-Moon at: Holly.Randell-Moon at otago.ac.nz<mailto:Holly.Randell-Moon at otago.ac.nz>

We will accept abstracts on a rolling basis until July 17th.

Registration for students/ unwaged participants is $5 and for academic participants $10.

For more information about the Postcolonial Studies Research Network, please visit our website here: http://www.otago.ac.nz/humanities/research/research-centres/otago062214.html

Symposium organisers:
Dr. Holly Randell-Moon
Mahdis Azarmandi

On behalf of the Postcolonial Studies Research Network:
Dr. Chris Prentice (Director)
Associate Professor Vijay Devadas
Dr. Simone Drichel

Razack, S. (2004). Dark Threats and White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
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