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The Multivalence of Infrastructures II – Rail

I am reading a fascinating article about colonial engineering. Canay Ozden’s fabulous “Pontifex Minimus” is about the British engineer of the Low (or old) Aswan Dam, and the article just drips with all sorts of wonderful quotable sections.  For example, this: The exportation of engineering practices from the metropole to the colony relied on a […]

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The Multivalence of Infrastructure I – Roads

As always Paul Rabinow’s French Modern is an extraordinary reminder of how transport infrastructures serve functions at once military and commercial – and in fact “war, commerce, and transit” (in Paul Nizan’s memorable phrase) cannot be prised apart. Here is Rabinow about Gallieni’s pacification of Indochina: There were only the most casual asides about more standard ethnographic […]

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Machineries of Joy: Wrestling with the technological sublime

This one is for my friends Rachel Shabi and Waleed Hazbun, who might recognise something of the pathos of our common paternal utopias in it… 11 February 2015 “Hyperbole is the main stock in trade of publicists, boosters and even anti-boosters in some artists. Yet redemptive hyperbole and apocalyptic hyperbole amount to the same thing. […]

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About Today: Steaming the security seas

10 February 2015 Everything anticipated our entry into what I can only call security seas. There are ships that do not send signals: they turn out to be warships of a sort, small, compact, going only at 7 knots with a marking of F571 their only distinguishing feature off the coast of Yemen. There is […]

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Reading Capital 2 on a containership

8 February 2015 You begin to realise how much Marx actually crafted his writing when you compare Capital I to Capital II.  The former is beautifully edited, funny, extensively footnoted, erudite, and with a gorgeous narrative structure that inexorably push you forward as the book goes on.  Not so Capital II which was assembled from […]

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Areia de Salamanca: The Razzia in the 16th century

5 February 2015 I borrowed Braudel’s discussion of the presidios on the North African coast yesterday to reflect on logistics… But as I read on, there was also the counterinsurgency element against the colonials (about which Braudel seems remarkably sanguine; remarkably without comment):  Let us imagine the atmosphere in these garrisons. Each was the fief […]

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Maritime Marriages

I have had the pleasure of reading Fernand Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (Vol. II) while in Malta.  When I first searched for Malta in the index, I was so pleased to see that it actually said passim… So many references that the indexer didn’t even have to bother. […]

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The Leisure of Transport

I have had -broadly speaking- four large and interconnected set of research interests thus far: Palestinian commemoration of political violence -massacres and battles, heroes and martyrs; the counterinsurgency work of US, Israel and colonial militaries; the politics and political economy of leisure and pleasure; and now my transport stuff.  In a previous post I managed […]

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East India Company Routes

Excellent video animating East India Company 1798-1834… http://vimeo.com/43884291

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Become a Sea Against Imperialism

Given the centrality of the sea to the work of colonisation and empire, I love this Turkish graffito my friend Pascal photographed in Istanbul:   Update: Pascal’s friend says this Deniz is Deniz Gezmiz… Good pun, in that case!

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