1 February 2017

In the Verso Books blog, 2016 Trudeau fellow and associate professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto Deborah Cowen has put down personal thoughts about such infrastructure crises as the demolitionof "The Jungle"migrant camp in Calais, the water protectors’ camps at Standing Rock, the poisoning of the water provided to Black communities in Flint, Michigan, and the signature of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion by more than 50 Indigenous nations from BC and Alberta. In her blog, Cowen reminds us that infrastructure is not a provincial matter but a planetary one, connecting a range of political conflicts that might otherwise seem disparate and discrete. Today, these crises often challenge the national monopoly on questions of citizenship, status, and jurisdiction.

Cowen adds: “The promise of repair — of fixing infrastructures — is precisely in recognizing the concrete reproduction of historical violence in the everyday. It lies in seeing the persistence of (settler) colonial and racial capitalist systems of sustaining and ordering the social in our present — in roads, or pipelines, or policing systems — and of seeing the operation of power not just in social interactions or economic relations, but in the particular material ordering that infrastructure brings.”

Read the full blog post  

Deborah Cowen

Professor Deborah Cowen's research looks at how conflicts over infrastructures have come to define our political landscape. She rethinks citizenship through case studies in energy, transport and security with movements and communities who contest infrastructures of injustice, and work to assemble alternatives.

2016 Fellows