Settler Colonial and Indigenous Geographies

How does a settler state secure the circuitry of capital?

Indigenous peoples interrupt commodity flows by asserting jurisdiction and sovereignty over their lands and resources in places that form choke points to the circulation of capital. In today’s economy, the state has begun to redefine its “resilience” in terms of its relative success in the protection and expansion of critical infrastructure. We find that there has been a political re-organization of governing authority over Indigenous peoples in Canada as a result, which is driven by greater integration of the private sector as national security “partners.” The securitization of “critical infrastructure”—essentially, supply chains of capital, such as private pipelines and public transport routes—has become the priority in mitigating the potential threat of Indigenous jurisdiction. New political and socio-temporal imperatives have led to shifts in risk evaluation, management, and mitigation practices of state administration, in cooperation with the private sector, to neutralize Indigenous disruption to supply chain infrastructure. In this paper, we examine two forms of risk mitigation: first, the configuration of Indigenous jurisdiction as a “legal risk” by the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; and second, the configuration of Indigenous jurisdiction as a source of potential “emergency.” Built on the literal ground of historical patterns of land grabs and migration, logistical space configures new networks of infrastructure into circuitries of production that cast into vivid relief the imperfections of settler sovereignty and the vital systems of Indigenous law.

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Volume 36 Issue 4

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