Charmaine Chua Speaks on Capitalism and Racial Inequality

Charmaine Chua from the University of California, Santa Barbara, will give a talk on the topic “Fast Circulation, Slow Life: The Racial Fix of Logistics.” The talk will take place on October 2, 2019, from 4-5:30pm in Brush Mountain A (Squires Student Center). The talk is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is the abstract of the talk: Mainstream understandings of “race” and racism often fail to interrogate the relationship between “race” and class. Such approaches often insufficiently understand the horizon of racial equality to be the inclusion of the previously excluded into the market, positing the economy as fundamentally race-neutral. In this lecture, I argue that racial inequality is not only reproduced through capitalist markets but fundamentally constitutes and structures the rules of the economy. I make this argument through an interrogation of the rapid growth of the just-in-time logistics economy. Drawing from ethnographic field work on board a container ship, I show that racism structures burgeoning and accelerating global supply chains in three ways: First, through the colonial legacy of market-based contracts; Second, through states’ own promotion of racialized stereotypes of its people; Third and finally, through the self-exploitation of logistics workers who internalize racialized rationalizations of their capacity to work. Taken together, my ethnographic account suggests that racism can only be fully understood as a component of racial capitalism (Robinson 2000), circulating through our lives through both structural and subjective domination, necessitating that we understand racial capitalism as a “technology of antirelationality” (Melamed 2015) that alternative visions of collective life must seek to undo.


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