Past Event

Emma Park - Of Rinderpest, Famine, Smallpox, and Debt: Land, Tax, Labor, and the Structure of the Conjuncture in 19th c. Eastern Africa

April 19, 2024
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
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Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue

Event Description

In 1896, the nebulous colonial state in Kenya began the construction of the Uganda Railway, a haphazard project that critics would come to call the “Lunatic Express.” This production of “colonial state space” was accompanied by and relied upon a series of conjunctural, ecological, epizootic, epidemic, and demographic dislocations. While the crises were conjunctural, creating a palimpsest of overlapping forms of suffering, they were shot through with relations of power, ultimately facilitating the state’s consolidation of its revenue regime as well as subsidizing new regimes of white accumulation. Lunacy might have guided the construction of this infrastructure, but there was a patterned method to the madness. Pace Marshall Sahlins, this “structure of the conjuncture” ultimately produced the historical geography of colonial capitalism in the East African Protectorate.

Event Speaker

Emma Park, Assistant Professor of History at the New School

Event Information

Open to Columbia University ID holders. Please email Elizabeth Branscum
at [email protected] for the reading. 

Hosted by the Seminar on the History and Philosophy of Science at Columbia University.