Transpacific Infrastructures III

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Sexuality and Space Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Wesley Attewell, Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Richard Nisa
Chairs: Wesley Attewell


In recent years, the term “transpacific” has attained new significance as a way of naming and illuminating the two-way “traffic in peoples, cultures, capital, and ideas between ‘America’ and ‘Asia’, as well as across the troubled ocean that lends its name to this model” (Hoskins and Nguyen, 2014: 2). This interdisciplinary field of inquiry has approached the study of the transpacific from a diversity of perspectives. Certain strands have focused on exploring the militarized regimes of imperial and (settler) colonial violence that have “constituted a structuring force” of transpacific world-making and diasporic community building (Camacho and Shigematsu, 2010; xv; Cruz 2012; Espiritu 2012, 2014, 2016; Friedman 2013, 2017; Ly 2017; Man 2017; Yoneyama, 2016). Others have foregrounded the transpacific as a “geocultural formation at once constituted by and deeply constitutive of global modernity” (Yao, 2017: 81). Still others have traced the geoeconomic flows of capital and racialized labour that were set in motion as part of broader capitalist projects of accumulation and dispossession (Flores 2015; Rhook 2017). Important efforts have also been undertaken to decenter the United States-East Asia axis as the dominant geographical framework for transpacific analysis, pointing instead to other, more long-standing and lateral, yet equally transpacific geographies of Indigenous and Pacific Islander solidarity building (Banivanua-Mar, 2016; Rhook, 2017; Te Punga Sommerville, 2017).

These otherwise distinct trajectories of research are linked in two ways: first, by their foregrounding of the important role played by “everyday peoples in the appropriation, contestation, or deliberation of regional and global hegemonies” (Camacho and Shigematsu, 2010: xv); and second, by the ways in which they all gesture towards the importance of paying closer attention to the geographies of transpacific formations (see, for example, Banivanua-Mar 2016; Espiritu 2016; Friedman 2017; Man 2017; Rhook 2017).

Despite this spatial turn in the study of the transpacific, geographers have been slow to engage with these concepts. We wager, in contrast, that the recent geographical work on infrastructure offers a productive lens through which to map the spatial circuitry of transpacific formations. Following Deborah Cowen (2017) and Michelle Murphy (2013), we adopt a more extensive definition of infrastructure that encompasses both physical structures (such as military bases, transportation networks, and pipelines), as well as “the spatially and temporally extensive ways that practices are sedimented into and structure the world”. We ask: what kinds of tangible and intangible infrastructures underpin processes of transpacific world-making? How are these infrastructures assembled? How are they disassembled? What kinds of life-sustaining and life-eliminating forces are being enabled or unleashed as part of such processes of assembly and disassembly? And ultimately, how can such transpacific infrastructures be reclaimed for socially and environmentally just ends?


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Laurel Mei-Singh Princeton University 20
Panelist Sasha Davis Keene State College 20
Panelist John Paul Catungal University of British Columbia 20
Panelist May Farrales University of Northern British Columbia 20
Introduction Wesley Attewell The University of British Columbia 20

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