SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

The Annihilation of Time Through Space: Colonial Policing in Britain Today

Adam Elliot-Cooper

Date: 11 November 2015Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 11 November 2015Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G52

Type of Event: Seminar

Marx's now famous assertion, the annihilation of space, through time, argues that as capital flows, migration and communication becomes faster across space, the time it takes for these things to travel decreases to the point that space almost disappears. In other words, spatial distances matter less and less, as the time it takes to travel across spaces (or for goods/ideas to travel across space) decreases.

But what about time? Can the movement of people and ideas change how we conceive of time? If ideas imposed by an Empire on some of its colonial subjects are considered too outdated to be employed on its own soil, what happens when those colonial subjects migrate to the centre of Empire? Can those old colonial ideas re-emerge as if new? If so, what effect does this have on the relationship between time, and space?

It has been put by many social scientists that neoliberalism has led to a new form of criminalisation, in which the state has moved away from welfarism and rehabilitative, and towards more punitive measures (Wacquant 2009). However, these punitive policies are not new at all, they were practiced by the British government throughout the interwar and postwar period. This was before the rise of neoliberalism, and during the apparent heyday of progressive British penal policy. This point has been missed by (European) scholars (partly) because of a spatial disjuncture - the British government deployed its punitive penal policies in its colonies, saving the more progressive criminal justice policies for the centre of Empire.

Although the rise of the punitive state in Britain has been linked to the rise of neoliberalism, this punitive shift is also distinctly racialised (Hall et al 1979, Williams 2014). Thus, the spatial disjuncture between colonial subject and the centre of Empire was disrupted through post-WW2 migration, leading to alternative explanations in the changing nature of how the capital and the state deals with criminalisation.

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Adam Elliot-Cooper The Annihilation of Time Through Space: Colonial Policing in Britain Today

About the Speaker

Adam Elliott-Cooper is a PhD student in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. His research looks at how black communities in post-2011 London and Birmingham are resisting police violence.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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