Smuts Memorial Lecture: Crossings and Corridors

13 November 2017, 17:15 - 19:00

Large lecture theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This lecture is part of the Smuts Memorial Lecture Series Afterlives of the South: Relations Across the Urban Postcolony, and is free and open to all. BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE. 

Smuts Memorial Lecture Series
Lecture Three: Crossings and Corridors
Speaker: AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)

Corridors are for whispers, claims made and withdrawn, even when announcements about the formation of corridors are full of swagger. No running in the corridors even though they exist so that there is no dallying, no time to cement alliances other than furtive gestures, initial invitations that never need materialize. Power rests in the corridor; it takes a break, and sometimes slams on the brakes in order to note strange amalgams of bodies that unexpectedly run into each other unannounced. Turn left at the end of the corridor and then take the first door on your right: these are lines of attack and resignation. Any diagnosis is incomplete without the corridor, for readings never take place all at once. The corridor is an interval, just as it architecturally renders each space that lines the corridor an interval, a step in some larger process to which the corridor is indifferent.

With these reflections in mind, the lecture will explore the oscillating rhythms of “corridor construction” from Kolkata to Kunming, and the ways in which the imaginaries articulated through initiatives such as the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum both marginalize long-standing spatial crossings and precipitate unanticipated crossroads. This will be drawn largely from stories collected from youth living in the restless cities of Northeast India. These stories point to the composition of afterlives, the ways in which things live on and live with their passing, both as dissimulation and disappearance. As such, urban life is never immune from the stories that seem to come from unknown origins, that everyone seems to know; something casting shadows aside the scrutiny of official bodies, rendering us complicit in insurgencies, in parts and roles that we cannot account for. Where we realize that urban life is mirroring something that never existed.

• As there are three events in this Smuts Memorial Lecture Series, you might wish to attend the first and second lectures as well.