Organized Panel Session
In an inter-Asia and transpacific context, this panel considers the centrality of death to the establishment of capitalist economies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Collectively, we argue that the violent establishment of capitalist relations, from infrastructural development to labor mobilization, simultaneously organizes who must die, by what means, and to what degree of (un)grievability. These papers emphasize that body counts are not sideshows to the establishment of post/colonial states; thanatopolitics lies at the center of capitalist and colonial projects.
Katsuya Hirano begins in the Ainu homeland (now the islands of Hokkaido, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands), where he finds indigenous elimination, carceral labor, and infrastructural development as central techniques to the settlement of Ainu land by the Japanese. Next, Toulouse-Antonin Roy investigates camphor and war capitalism in late-19th century Taiwan in the escalation of violence between the Japanese Empire and Taiwanese Aborigines. Moving to the Philippines, Adrian De Leon traces a genealogy of extrajudicial killings (or “salvaging”) to the extermination of “Non-Christian Tribes” in Northern Luzon whom the colonial state considered as surplus to infrastructural development. Finally, Tao Leigh Goffe moves across the Pacific to Chinese indenture and funerary practices in the Caribbean, where she investigates the repair of diasporic cemeteries and the persistence of pre-Catholic conversion mourning practices among descendants. Lisa Lowe will serve as chair and offer comments.