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Rozalinda Borcila: Underlying

Jul 23 – 28, 2018
Summer Intensive 2018
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Image of Rozalinda Borcila
Rozalinda Borcila. Courtesy the artist.

In this seminar we will strive for an analytic and sensorial interpretation of the increasing dominance of finance in contemporary life. Miami is an excellent setting for this experiment.

The late dancer and sociologist Randy Martin brilliantly theorized the ways financialization has impacted every aspect of the social—from global governance and war to everyday life. In his analysis, the financial derivative is not merely a financial operation but a social logic, a process of disassembling, dispersal and reassembling that reorders the spheres of economy, polity and culture; a new potential sociality emerges, based on multilateral intercommensurability, mutual indebtedness, contagion and dispersal1.

We will take a different direction to our study, focusing on the spatializing and ecological dimensions of the derivative logic as experienced in a settler-colonial financial metropolis. We will pair readings and class lectures with artistic modes of inquiry that draw from, and work away from, trajectories of acoustic ecology and phychogeography. Think of it as a speculative phychogeography of the derivative, or a derivative of the dérive – a dérive-ative of sorts.

In finance, a derivative is a contract akin to a wager. The most-cited example for a shorthand definition is the futures contract, an agreement to buy a certain amount of a commodity at a specified price in the future. The value of the wager is determined not by the commodity itself, called an underlying asset or simply underlying, but by various ways of calculating the risk and probability of fluctuations in a certain attribute of the underlying – in this example, the price. In theorizing finance as colonizing other spheres of life, scholars refer to the coercive force exerted by the derivative logic, so that everything becomes subject to remaking as underlying: broken up into a set of attributes, subjected to quantification and measurement, aggregated and recombined across levels of risk such that even the smallest differentials become opportunities for high-stakes wagers. You can bet on the performance of future contracts you don’t own, on fluctuations in the price of Mexican currency within intervals of a fraction of a second, or on thousands of slices of debt repayments bundled together in tranches according to default risk level. You can trade in weather volatility and you can speculate on the survival of others.

We will bring together distinct understandings of underlying – as the basis for a financial ritual, as the material condition for the possibility of survival, and as the mandate of eco-genocide that makes possible the inscription of settler homelands on indigenous lands. How does a derivative logic operate in the settler-colonial experience of the anthropocene in Miami? We are open to instanciations ranging from the politics and governance of “climate resilience” to socially-engaged and environmental art, to daily routines of mobility and domesticity.

Indigenous peoples, indigenous resurgence and indigenous scholarship disrupt the tendency to think of financial capital and its colonizing function as immaterial — a matter of subjectivities, cultural forms, discourses, or as a metaphor (Tuck and Yang)2. We cannot, much as we would like to claim, decolonize our minds without addressing the ways settler colonialism constitutes a “physical, material and ecological excavation that can ground and provide evidence for the discursive constructs and mental states of settlers” (Kyle White)3. A psychogeographic approach would have us try to sense – to see, touch, hear, trace, feel – the physical, social, technological processes that reshape our environment to make possible the peculiar operation of bringing a projected future into the present, making it actionable for those who can speculate and those with the power to organize the ability to speculate. But our collective apparatus for sense-ing is suspect – and here we consider sense both as in meaning (intellection, discourse, analysis) and as in sensation (perception, affect). We will use the gaps and tensions between different modalities of inquiry to set in motion a certain estrangement of what has been called a settler common sense, a settlerness, that comprises an “embodied set . . . of sensations, dispositions, and lived trajectories” orienting and regulating action in the “field of possibility” constituted by settler society (Mark Rifkin). The common sense of settlerness is an acquired pattern of perception, of thinking/feeling and inhabiting territories carved out and shaped by settler colonialism. Settlerness is instantiated in the subtle violence of “colonial unknowing” (Jodi Byrd), which is not merely about forgetting or being unaware.

  1. Randy Martin, Knowledge LTD. Toward a Social Logic of the Derivative, Philadelphia: Temple University (2015)
  2. Eve Tuck, K. Wayne Yang, Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, Vol 1, No 1 (2012)
  3. Kyle Powys Whyte. Indigeneity and US Settler Colonialism. in Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race. Edited by N. Zack, 91-101. Oxford University Press, 2016

Schedule
  • Wed, Jul 25, 2018
    10:00 am to 12:30 pm
  • Thu, Jul 26, 2018
    10:00 am to 12:30 pm
  • Fri, Jul 27, 2018
    10:00 am to 12:30 pm
  • Sat, Jul 28, 2018
    9:00 am to 1:00 pm
About Rozalinda Borcila

Rozalinda Borcila’s artistic research traces local geographies of globalized racial finance. She makes videos, develops archives, writes and organizes learning walks to probe the machinery of capital circulation, to explore its metabolism and to experiment with possibilities for collective trespass. She is co-editor of the book “Deep Routes: The Midwest in All Directions” and the publication AREA Chicago: Art Research Education Activism. She collaborates with Compass, NoName Collective, and Moratorium on Deportations Campaign, and is committed to autonomous noborder activism. She teaches in universities, social centers, art institutions, squats, refugee camps and in the streets.

Reading
Semester
Jul 23 – 28, 2018
Summer Intensive 2018
Learn More