Article Forum: 2019 AAG Political Geography Plenary “The Coloniality of Disaster”

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ABSTRACT: This essay uses the case of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to discuss “the coloniality of disaster”: how catastrophic events like hurricanes, earthquakes, but also other forms political and economic crisis deepen the fault lines of long-existing racial and colonial histories. It argues that disaster capitalism needs to be understood as a form of racio-colonial capitalism and that this in turn requires us to question our understandings of both “resilience” and “recovery.” The article focuses on the “wait of disaster” as a temporal logic of state subjugation and on how Puerto Ricans responded to state abandonment through modes of autogestión, or autonomous organizing. It concludes that while resiliency can be coopted in service of a neoliberal recovery, it can also be the site for gestating new forms of sovereignty and new visions of postcolonial recovery.


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