Emergence implies excitement, speed, growth, and in particular the powerhouses of the Global South where ‘world-class’ glass-and-steel financial districts are found in close proximity to underserved slums. But emergence also implies a form of catching up, of being late, of being behind, and has done little to shed the ideas of racial and civilizational hierarchy which previously lurked behind the language of modernization. In the first of Part IV’s three chapters, Ilias Alami explores the particular ways in which financiers investing in South Africa discount Black African rule, and cast Black African workers as unruly and threatening to capital. As Jon Schubert shows, railways built in Angola by the Portuguese to facilitate extraction of ore to the South African coast have been revitalized for an ore-hungry China, but the promise of economic diversification that would come with the updated railway lines has yet to materialize. Linsey Ly’s chapter takes us to China’s internal colonisation of Inner Mongolia, and the successive speculative visions for Han Chinese modernisation of Mongolia that have resulted in a landscape littered with ghost cities, and scarred by rare earth extraction.
Over twenty-five contributors from around the world have prepared short, accessible chapters that take a striking image as a starting point to explore how today’s global financial structures are haunted by the ghosts of empire. Anyone interested in knowing more about the legacies of racism, colonialism and imperialism, whether newcomer or specialists, will enjoy this unique collection of essays. The volume provides many rich examples to draw on, from the City of London to the Australian outback, from Angola’s railways to China’s ghost cities, from the depths of the ocean to the ethereal world of data. It also tells stories of resistance and contestation, from Maori banks to radical muralists, from subtle gestures to mass uprisings. With chapters on global commodities ranging from oil to clothing to the popular drink Milo, the authors in this collection take an interdisciplinary approach, melding political economy with cultural analysis, critical geography with historical acumen. This book is both a fascinating journey for readers and an invaluable tool for teachers in many fields seeking to awaken students’ curiosity about how the global capitalist economy emerged from and reproduces racialized inequalities.
This chapter is centred on a picture of a large children’s playground built in a bomb shelter in the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders Gaza. I first discuss the playground as a spatialized figure for ‘chronic time’ or the eternalization of the present in Israel: its construction signalling the replacement of any temporal narrative – that ends in peace or in death – with a permanent securitization. I contrast this image with two others: first, of the devastation of Gaza, to which the link is obvious. And second, of new real estate developments in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I show that the increasing commodification of real estate in Israel (once wholly controlled by the state) and stagnating wages have made housing in many parts of Israel unaffordable for many Israelis, thus propelling state-subsidized construction of housing in the occupied West Bank. This, in turn, perpetuates the oppression of Palestinians and the state of eternalized, timeless securitization embodied in Sderot’s playground.
Otobong Nkanga’s artwork The Weight of Scars allows for an interrogation of some of the complex and non-linear connections between mining, finance and racial violence across both time and space. Nkanga’s artwork, where what intuitively looks like a world map bears no resemblance to the ordinary mappings of continents and oceans, and yet is still evocative of land and seas in entirely new shapes, makes us look again at what at first sight appears familiar, to challenge certain taken-for-granted understandings. The title of Nkanga’s 2018 exhibition – ‘To Dig a Hole that Collapses Again’ – of which the work The Weight of Scars forms part, bears a resemblance an expression often heard within mining finance circles in London, Cape Town and Johannesburg, of ‘the hole in the ground that cannot be moved’. The sense of repetition in Nkanga’s title reverberates not only with concerns about boom and bust cycles but also with the way in which mining finance itself carries with it traces of colonial and imperial pasts. This chapter delves into how Nkanga ́s artwork can open up ways of thinking about the relationship between mining finance and racialized capital accumulation that can transverse spatial and temporal boundaries.
The lure of the image or the object as ‘evidence’ is perhaps both more compelling and more unsatisfying when the ‘crime’ or set of relationships we are seeking to understand is related to financialization and neoliberalism amid their entanglements with colonialism and imperialism. The chapters in Part V each take otherwise innocuous images or things and help us to realize that the gesture or transaction they represent contains worlds. Holly Randell-Moon (Chapter 14) presents the 1975 image of two men passing one another sand, a gesture marking the symbolic ‘return’ of land by the then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to Indigenous Gurindji elder and activist Vincent Lingiari. But Randell-Moon also takes us behind the camera to explore the life and career of Mervyn Bishop, the first Aboriginal photographer employed by major newspapers and by the Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Zenia Kish (Chapter 15) introduces us to ‘venture philanthropy’ celebrity Jaqueline Novogratz, whose bestselling 2009 book The Blue Sweater refers to Novogratz’s rediscovery of ‘her’ blue sweater, previously donated to a charity box, worn by a young boy she met in Rwanda. Alessandra Ferrini (Chapter 13) presents us with another image-within-an-image, this one of a 2009 encounter at a Rome airport when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi greeted Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi wore pinned to his chest an image of Omar al-Mukhtar, iconic leader of the Libyan resistance to Italian colonial occupation in the first half of the twentieth century who was tortured and killed by Italian forces in 1931.
‘You owe £1200 for school lunches. Your son cannot go to prom before your debt is settled.’ This excerpt from a school letter marks a new chapter in the entanglement of mobility and (neo-)colonialism. While some of the most destitute families in the UK are migrants subject to ‘no recourse to public funds’, children from such families are excluded from free school meal provision, an intervention purportedly intended to mitigate the impacts of poverty. In the context of a rapid marketization of education, including the rise of policy-setting neoliberal academies, children may also be barred from bringing packed lunches to school, required to either incur debt to eat or go hungry. An indebted subject is thus produced at the interface of an immigration policy of ‘enforced destitution’ – designed to deter the settlement of negatively racialized postcolonial subjects from Britain’s erstwhile Empire – and the global ubiquity of debt incurred to ensure sustenance in an era of neoliberal financialization. This chapter traces outward from this artefact of parent–school communication to examine its place within a web of survival debts and the historical and present-day circulation of bodies and capital between sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. It points to the ways that debt is racialized and implicated in the production of a ‘second’ British empire
Flanked by trees, telephone poles and wires, a Black woman walks toward the camera and away from the horizon. A voiceover intones: ‘I’m only seventeen but I know about investing.’ One of five ads in the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) ‘I am your dividend’ campaign, each TV spot modifies the long-standing UNCF slogan ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste ...’ with ‘... but a wonderful thing to invest in’, introducing a new financial product, the Better Futures Stock, as a means of contributing to the fund. At once monetary and ‘social’, ‘I am your dividend’ proposes a future of realized profit and human potential through financialization. Though here articulated in terms of philanthropy, for universities, the federal government and the student debt industry, those like Sydni, the woman in the image, are both product and producer. Articulating what Jackie Wang calls ‘expropriation through financial inclusion’, Sydni’s claim to ‘know about investing’ signals the imperative of the entrepreneurial self, the reduction of knowledge production to financial speculation and, perhaps, an ironic and resistive ‘knowingness’ regarding investments in higher education. This chapter explores and critiques this intertwining of knowledge, debt and diversity in the financialized university.
Bird’s-eye view maps and clock time were not only crucial to European navigation of the oceans that enabled colonialism and capitalism, they were also essential to the management of colonies and workforces. And as these ways of imagining space and time became dominant they erased other traditions for imagining space and time as well. Yet what do these dominant forms of imagining space and time hide? Part VIII focuses on the way activists, scholars and artists today are challenging the way we have learned to imagine space and time thanks to the forces of financialization and neoliberalism. In all three chapters we are introduced to experimental techniques for seeing the relation between things in space and time. Against the celebratory culture of corporate-led globalization that promises that it will bring peace and prosperity to Latin America, Samaniego and Mantz show us how the Beehive Design Collective of artists, educators and activists has drawn on interviews and research with activists to create a different image. Styve interprets Otobong Nkanga’s mixed media piece The Weight of Scars (2015) (featured on this book’s cover), which features printed photographs of Namibian landscapes fractured by extractive mining within a broader tapestry of traditional fibres. Bhattacharrya’s diagram begins from an attempt to create an image, and so help us to imagine how the world system might appear if we ‘mapped’ it from the perspective of how dominant systems are related.
This chapter tells the story of an imaginary map of racial capitalism. The image functions as both mystery and diagram, leading the viewer to trace possible routes of culpability and connection but also illustrating unexpected relations of supplementarity. In a previous imperial era, the pictorial depiction of Britannia sought to visualize a set of global connections with Britannia herself at centre, in a relation of benevolence and/or domination to the massed others of the world. This story and image reflects on this earlier genre of visualizing a particular moment in the history of racial capitalism. In particular, the image raises the following questions: who or what centres systems of racial capitalism today? What does the ‘periphery’ look like in our time? How can we conceptualize the supplementary role of social reproduction and imagine social reproduction beyond the household? What clues can we uncover to trace the spatial pathways inhabited by racial capitalism? What, still now, lives in the shadows and what practices of imagination can help us to touch those spaces?
We live in a colonial global economy. Colonialism has always operated through the creation and maintenance of racial hierarchies and exclusions. Financial practices and financial institutions have been as intimately entangled with racial hierarchy, racism and white supremacy as have colonizing states and their bureaucracies. The chapters in this book all share a concern with the entanglement of race, empire and finance in the colonial present. Each and every chapter is organized around an image: a photograph, work of art, map, advert or diagram. For some, the central concern is the relationship between hostile borders, race, migration and personal indebtedness. For others, it is the relationship between extractive infrastructure and the transition from European to Chinese investment in Africa. Several chapters are concerned with the settler colonial settings of contemporary Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Some are historical, some personal and others based on interviews and ethnographic fieldwork. We have chosen to organize this book around a set of images to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue and learning. We invite you to explore your own connections as you unpick and identify the manifold entangled legacies which make an appearance in this collection.