For the second Submerged Heritage event, Nadine King Chambers gives a talk on the interrelationships between Black Caribbean and Indigeneous peoples, through the entry point of Tahitian breadfruit brought by ship into the Caribbean.
In the 1950s two kinds of dispossession occurred in the Caribbean and the Canadian Pacific through a tailings ponds and a smelter of a transnational aluminium operation; both structures built as key parts of the extractive processes co-constituting what Chambers calls a ‘networked isolation’ in rural Jamaica and rural Canada. By moving through time, she works to reveal the joint impact which anchors the foundation of her talk. To understand the impetus for this talk it is necessary to ‘re-orient’ the Caribbean with the Pacific by considering geographic comparisons and scale while weaving disjointed fragments of history that travelled the Caribbean and the Pacific seas.
By time-skipping, she will ask the audience to look at the movement of uru (translation: breadfruit) from Tahiti to Jamaica and 200 years later bauxite from Jamaica to Kitimat, as part of extractive colonial practices that have impacted a material sense of geography and belonging – a necessary examination to undo what she calls ‘the afterlife of an introduction through white colonial disciplinarity’.
In her larger research project, Chambers reads in between the silences in colonial voyage narratives to find the histories of the interrelationships between Black Caribbean and Indigenous peoples that existing historiography has erased or obscured. She contemplates the spaces between Black and Indigenous people’s parallel and intersecting histories of displacement, migration and decolonial struggles. She seeks stories of encounters that have been ignored in academic texts, or situated at a distance geographically or categorically in archived records.
Het Nieuwe Instituut
3015 CB Rotterdam
Students, CJP, Friends and Members of Het Nieuwe Instituut3.75
Nadine King Chambers
An Afro-Caribbean raised by working class grandparents and a librarian mother in Jamaica, Nadine King Chambers has spent the last 25 years in the semi-rural and urban Pacific West Coast of Canada. Her formalised studies have been primarily hunting colonisation in the areas of gender/law/resource management, literature, and Indigenous studies. She left formal school in 2012 to remain ungovernable and free to travel between subjects, languages and transatlantic thought paths.
Submerged Heritage is a research project that pivots around the Brokopondo water reservoir in Suriname by Daphne Bakker, Miguel Peres dos Santos and Vincent van Velsen. Officially named by Dutch colonial rulers as the Professor Doctor Ingenieur W. J. van Blommestein Meer, the 1560-m2 water reservoir, which flooded one-third of the Brokopondo province, is the result of the construction of the Afobaka Dam (1961-1964). The construction of this hydraulic power plant, meant to power one single aluminium smelter of Alcoa Corporation, resulted in the flooding of 28 villages and the forced eviction of 5000 people, most of them from the Saramaccan Maroon communities who lived along the Suriname river. The research aims to critically investigate, through a focus on the Afobaka dam, how Dutch colonialism is intertwined with global capitalism, highlighting aspects such as environmental destruction, extraction of resources, displacement, and socio-political and cultural annihilation.
The research project Submerged Heritage pivots around the Brokopondo water reservoir in Suriname, which was created to power the modern hunger for aluminium. Researchers Daphne Bakker, Miguel Peres dos Santos and Vincent van Velsen talk about the project on stage in Rotterdam, while Mimi Sheller delivers a remote lecture on her book Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity.