Studies in National and International Development


National and International Development

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2016-17 LECTURES​

Watering Down Irish Austerity

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Silke Trommer
Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester

Title:  Watering Down Irish Austerity

A broad protest movement against the introduction of household-level water charges as one condition of the Republic of Ireland’s austerity memorandum is disrupting the country’s image as poster-child of austerity. Although few and far between, existing scholarly accounts of this movement have focused on events in the public sphere, such as large-scale demonstrations and the Right2Water campaign led by a number of trade unions and political parties. To complement the analysis, my talk examines Irish anti-water charges protests rooted in the private sphere. I explore a variety of grassroots level initiatives and struggles against the Irish austerity agenda, from “burn the bills”, to water meter fairies, and the “Jobstown 23”. I find that civil disobedience and boycott in the everyday are not only common and essential to the successes of the Irish water movement. Intriguingly, protesters also make regular reference to historical struggles against colonial and capitalist expansion on the island of Ireland. My case study suggests that analytical attention to agitation at the micro-social level and to long-term historical processes is key for assessing the full impact of the austerity era on Irish and European politics.


Silke Trommer is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester. Her publications include Transformations in Trade Politics: Participatory Trade Politics in West Africa (Routledge, 2014) and Expert Knowledge in Global Trade (with Erin Hannah and James Scott, Routledge, 2016). Her previous research focused on the agency of non-state actors and small, developing countries in the global trading system. Her doctoral dissertation received the 2013 Best Dissertation Award from the International Political Economy Section of the International Studies Association, the Best International Relations Doctoral Dissertation Produced in a Finnish University 2012-2014 from the Finnish Foundation for Foreign Policy Research, and the 2015 Supranational Political Economy Prize from the University of Pavia. She currently works on austerity protest in the Republic of Ireland and on an Australian Research Council-funded project investigating the perspectives of global trade policy communities on trade multilateralism. She can be contacted at

Silke Trommer

Disaster capitalism and the quick, quick, slow unraveling of animal life

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Rosemary-Claire Collard
Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University

Title:  Disaster capitalism and the quick, quick, slow unraveling of animal life

Capitalist development has been disastrous for sea otters. They have barely survived the past centuries. Aiming to better understand this loss, in this paper I track sea otters’ collective life course in Alaska, since colonization. How have sea otters been oriented in capitalist social relations over time? How has their orientation both invited and stemmed from disaster? I follow Alaskan sea otters through three regimes of loss: their near extinction during the fur trade and early expansionist, colonial capitalism; petro-capitalism and the negligent neoliberal state, culminating in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a death-dealing catastrophe for thousands of sea otters; and finally, spill cleanup, late capitalism, and advanced ecological crisis, when two dominant sea otter subjects are produced: the knowable animal and the enclosed animal. In each episode, I describe how sea otters are oriented in relation to capitalist production and the state, and what kind of violence and loss attends these orientations. Two arguments emerge from this analysis, building from the conceptual framing of Naomi Klein’s (2007) disaster capitalism thesis and insights from animal studies. First, disaster capitalism’s coupled tendencies – to generate disasters and to expand or accumulate through them – depend in part on particular orientations of nonhumans. Second, in conversation with recent theorizations of extinction or biodiversity loss as a “slow unraveling” (Van Dooren 2014, 12), I argue that animal life sometimes unravels less slowly than haltingly – quick, quick, slow – and that the unraveling and animals’ orientation in capitalism are co-constituted.


CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER: Performing Confrontation: The Materiality of the Separation Wall and Resistance to It

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - CANCELED as the speaker's flight was canceled due to weather
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Amahl Bishara
Associate professor of Anthropology at Tufts University

Title:  Performing Confrontation: The Materiality of the Separation Wall and Resistance to It

Youth in Aida Refugee Camp have expended great amounts of energy and taken significant risks to bust holes in Israel’s separation wall, which is adjacent to homes of the camp. This mode of resistance is distinct from other Palestinian movements against the wall, some of which hinge on a performance of nonviolence; indeed, these activists can be said to be performing confrontation. The specificity of this form of resistance springs from the fractures in organizing against the wall at the national level and from the specific materiality and violence of the wall at this location.    

Amahl Bishara is an associate professor of Anthropology at Tufts University whose research revolves around settler colonialism, expressivity, place, and media. She is the author of Back Stories: U.S. News and Palestinian Politics (Stanford University Press 2013), an ethnography of the production of U.S. news during the second Palestinian intifada, and the article “Driving While Palestinian in Israel and the West Bank” (American Ethnologist 2015). She directed the documentaries Degrees of Incarceration (2011) and Take My Pictures For Me (2016).

Youth in Aida Refugee Camp

Hip Hop and Street Poetry in Cuba, North America, and Beyond

In conjunction with the visit of Cuban hip hop artist/visiting scholar Telmary Díaz, we present a panel discussion about hip hop’s origins and international, cross-border reach.

Panelists include Dr. Barrington Walker, History Department and Freddy Monasterio Barsó, PhD Student, Cultural Studies 

Telmary Díaz describes herself as a journalist whose medium is hip hop and jazz poetry.  She is an internationally recognized Cuban artist who has recorded and performed with musicians such as Dr. John, Ibeyi, and Africa Bambataa.  She researches the roots of hip hop in Cuban traditional music.

To the Ends of the Earth: capital, space and the making of extractive economies

Wednesday, March 8, 2017  **** Please Note alternative date and location

Kingston Hall, Room 200

2:00 - 3:30 pm

Gavin Bridge
Professor of Economic Geography at Durham University

Title:  To the Ends of the Earth: capital, space and the making of extractive economies

The periodic expansion of resource extraction towards the ‘ends of the earth’ raises concerns about resource security, livelihood sustainability and the breaching of planetary boundaries. But what drives resource rushes and shapes their unevenness in space and time? How are subterranean mineral resources assembled as objects of metropolitan investment and speculation, and with what consequences for lands and livelihoods? In this talk I consider two periods in which distinctive new geographies of resource extraction have emerged at the world scale.


Gavin Bridge is Professor of Economic Geography at Durham University and has research expertise in the political economy of natural resources. His research centres on the spatial and temporal dynamics of extractive industries - oil, gas and mining - and has been funded by the US National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the European Commission, UK Energy Research Centre, British Academy and Leverhulme Trust. It includes work in the Americas on the land-use changes associated with mining exploration and investment, research on organisational and geographical restructuring of the international oil sector, and a collaborative project to understand the implications for UK energy security of an evolving ‘global’ market for natural gas.  He is co-author, with Philippe Le Billon, of Oil published by Polity Press (2013, 2017) and co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology (2015).  

Gavin Bridge

"This Mess of a Colonial Legacy”: Indigeneity, Restorative Justice and the Caribbean Community

In December 2013, Chairman of the Caribbean’s Community’s Reparations Commission Hilary Beckles announced that Caricom’s fourteen governments would seek, “to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the former colonial European countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community, for native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery”. This statement implies a particular convergence between histories of slavery and indigenous genocide, such that the injustices of both colonizing processes can be unproblematically encompassed in Caricom’s legal case. By contrast, other scholars have posited a more complicated relationship between modern Caribbean states and anti-indigenous violence. According to this approach postcolonial Caribbean régimes are much better understood as having accepted a role as successors to colonial authorities in the subjugation of indigenous peoples in the Americas, which equates them more closely with “settler” colonial states (Enakshi Dua and Bonita Lawrence, 2005; Jackson, 2012). This paper takes up this debate, and focuses on the former British Lesser Antilles, as well the continental Anglophone Caribbean states of Belize and Guyana. I seek to think through the implications of “this mess of a colonial legacy”, to quote Belizean Mayan scholar Filiberto Penados. Specifically, I explore what the intersections of indigeneity and predominantly African plantation slavery might mean for indigenous struggles for recognition in the Caribbean and for the Caricom reparations movement. I also argue that thinking about the Caribbean as indigenous space opens up new ways of understanding the contemporary Caribbean state.

About the Speaker: Melanie J. Newton is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Caribbean Studies Program at the University of Toronto. She specializes in the history of the Caribbean and the Atlantic World. She is the author of The Children of Africa in the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados in the Age of Emancipation (Baton Louisiana State University Press, 2008) and numerous scholarly articles on gender, slavery and slave emancipation and indigenous Caribbean history. Recent publications include Stefanie Kennedy and Melanie J. Newton, “The Hauntings of Slavery: Colonialism and the Disabled Body in the Caribbean,” in Shaun Grech and Karen Soldatic eds., Disability in the Global South (Springer, 2016); “The Race Leapt At Sauteurs: Genocide, Narrative and Indigenous Exile from the Caribbean,” Caribbean Quarterly special issue on the Garifuna people (Joseph Palacio ed.), vol. 60, no. 2, June 2014, 5-28 and “Returns to a Native Land?’ Indigeneity and Decolonisation in the Anglophone Caribbean,” Small Axe, vol. 41, 2013, pp. 108-122. She sits on the editorial boards of the journals Small Axe and British Studies. Her current research project is entitled This Island’s Mine: Indigeneity in the Caribbean Atlantic World.

Mau Mau: The Face of International Terrorism in the 1950's in Contemporary Perspective

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Bruce Berman
Professor Emeritus of Political Studies and History at Queen’s University

Title:  Mau Mau:  The Face of International Terrorism in the 1950's in Contemporary Perspective

For more than 30 years until the end of the1980’s, Mau Mau in Kenya was to the Western world the terrifying face of  African savagery. The British colonial authorities depicted it as a terrorism intended to murder or drive all Europeans out of Kenya.   It was secretly directed by Jomo Kenyatta, the leading African political figure in the colony and a suspected Communist. Through his knowledge of the culture and psychology of his primitive Kikuyu tribesmen he manipulated them into demented psychopathic murderers.
This image of Mau Mau was vigorously propagated by the British through the Western media, was used to justify one of the first counter insurgency campaigns against anti-colonial terrorism. Kenyatta was imprisoned along with more than 60,000 other Kikuyu, while more than 30,000 were killed by security forces, including by the loyalist Kikuyu Guard. The problem is, almost nothing about the official  version of Mau Mau is true.  Some sixty years of research has revealed Mau Mau to have been an initially inchoate and later more organized response of a Kikuyu underclass of dispossessed peasants, urban workers and unemployed to the yawning inequities of rapid post-war development in Kenya that pitted them against not only the white settler population, but also against an increasingly wealthy Kikuyu upper class.

In contemporary perspective what Mau Mau suggests is the shared origins of the far more violent and ideologically extreme movements from Boko Haram and al Shabaab to the Arab spring and ISIS in the catastrophic impact of capitalist modernity on the underclass of indigenous societies. These consequences have been misunderstood, dismissed or ignored completely by all of the dominant theories of ‘development’ of the past seventy years. What we can learn from Mau Mau is what one veteran told a visiting researcher, that the joined the movement “to get land and become an adult”. At the same time, we can recognize the contemporary circumstances that have both made contemporary  terrorism mover ideologically extreme and violent while limiting the response of Western powers, in particular, to repression and destruction.


The Canadian Medical Expedition to Easter Island (METEI) 1964-65

Thursday, February 2, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Jacalyn Duffin
Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine at Queen’s University

Title:  The Canadian Medical Expedition to Easter Island (METEI) 1964-65
In 1964, an international scientific team, led by McGill gastroenterologist Stanley Skoryna, convinced Prime Minister Lester Pearson to donate a navy vessel to a plan to document the biosphere of the word’s most remote community: Easter Island. Emerging in a climate of international cooperation, METEI became one of Canada’s contributions to the International Biological Program It was predicated on the imminent prospect of an airport to link this sheltered island with humans, animals, plants, and microbes everywhere else. With World Health Organization support, the scientists would characterize all life forms in terms of genus and species, but also in terms of genetics, physiology, metabolism, and immunology. It would be complete only when repeated decades later--an exercise that never took place.

Few historians have examined this adventure. With special focus on its medical aspects, this paper focuses on its scientific justifications and products through the publications and personal papers of researchers and the ship’s captain, held in archives in Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal. This evidence is amplified by interviews with surviving scientist-travellers from Canada, US, Sweden, and South Africa.

The team journeyed from Halifax via Panama, transporting scientific apparatus and supplies, including portable buildings for a laboratory compound. Over three months, they documented the size, lung capacity, blood groups, and immune status of the 1000 human inhabitants. They also tried to characterize all the plants, animals, and microbes. They were captivated by the romance of the island’s past--the mysterious moai statues and the disappearance of its dense forest—features popularized by the famous Kon Tiki expedition of Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl in 1947. Aware that their presence might transmit infection, they volunteered medical services. The team returned in February 1965 to analyze mountains of data, leaving behind one doctor and the buildings to serve as a clinic.
Skoryna boasted 100 percent success, but his opinion was quietly contested; relationships were strained, publications few, and several surprise findings limited the impact. Furthermore, in light of postmodern sensitivities, uncomfortable racist overtones underlie the plan. Nevertheless two unexpected and previously unrecognized benefits, concerning polio and cancer chemotherapy, continue to exert influence even now.

The financialization of food and the 2008-2011 food price spikes

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Sean Field
Queen's School of Policy Studies

Title:  The financialization of food and the 2008-2011 food price spikes

The treatment of recent global food price volatility in the neoclassical academic literature is problematic in its limited conceptual and empirical scope. This study presents new empirical
data and analysis linking financial speculation by index swap dealers (‘index funds’) with US and global food price volatility. Marxian circuits of capital are used to illustrate the connection
between index funds and food consumers. The findings show that financial speculation by index swap dealers and hedge funds significantly contributed to the price volatility of food
commodities between June 2006 and December 2014. The key conceptual contribution is that it articulates geographical economic interpretation of food price volatility and financial speculation
in a literature awash with neoclassical economic analyses.   

Click here for the Financialization of Food presentation slides

Hungry Listening

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Mac-Corry D 214, 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Dylan Robinson
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Queen’s University

This presentation examines how Indigenous and settler listening practices are shaped through processes of subjectivation defined by state and educational institutions. It will contrast forms of listening guided by Indigenous and Western ontologies of song, and ask how we might develop new critical listening positionalities. 


Dylan Robinson is a Sto:lo artist and scholar, and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University. His current research focuses on Indigenous art in public spaces across North America, and his publications include the collections Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016) and Opera Indigene (Routledge, 2011).