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Spaces of New Colonialism

Reading Schools, Museums, and Cities in the Tumult of Globalization

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Edited By Cameron McCarthy, Koeli Moitra Goel, Ergin Bulut, Warren Crichlow, Brenda Nyandiko Sanya and Bryce Henson

Spaces of New Colonialism is an edited volume of 16 essays and interviews by prominent and emerging scholars who examine how the restructuring of capitalist globalization is articulated to key sites and institutions that now cut an ecumenical swath across human societies. The volume is the product of sustained, critical rumination on current mutations of space and material and cultural assemblages in key institutional flashpoints of contemporary societies undergoing transformations sparked by neoliberal globalization. The flashpoints foregrounded in this edited volume are concentrated in the nexus of schools, museums and the city. The book features an intense transnational conversation within an online collective of scholars who operate in a variety of disciplines and speak from a variety of locations that cut across the globe, north and south. Spaces of New Colonialism began as an effort to connect political dynamics that commenced with the Arab spring and uprisings and protests against white-on-black police violence in US cities to a broader reading of the career, trajectory and effects of neoliberal globalization.

Contributors look at key flashpoints or targets of neoliberalism in present-day societies: the school, the museum and the city. Collectively, they maintain that the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit movement in England marked a political maturation, not a mere aberration, of some kind—evidence of some new composition of forces, new and intensifying forms of stratification, ultimately new colonialism—that now distinctively characterizes this period of neoliberal globalization.

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List of Contributors

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John Akomfrah is an internationally respected artist, filmmaker, and theorist, whose works employ a variety of archival media to investigate memory, slavery, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics, and to express experiences of migrant diasporas world-historically. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists Lina Gopaul and David Lawson who remain his collaborators today in Smoking Dogs Film. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986), explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos, and newsreel. The film garnered international prizes, establishing a multilayered cinematic style and committed visual politics that are now recognizable motifs of Akomfrah’s practice. Contemporary works, characterized by multiple-screen video installation in gallery space, include: The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Vertigo Sea (2015), which explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls “the sublime seas”; Purple (2017), a six-channel video installation which addresses climate change, human communities, and our new planetary sensorium; and Precarity (2017), a visual rumination on the life of forgotten New Orleans ragtime jazz legend Charles “Buddy” Bolden. Akomfrah’s Four Nocturnes (2019), featured at the first Ghana Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, continues ←377 | 378→his meditation on the complex intertwined relationship between humanity’s destruction of the natural world and our destruction of ourselves.

Ergin Bulut received his PhD from the Institute of Communications Research at the University...

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