Ginger Nolan

Biopolitics in the Wilderness

Responding to Michel Foucault's thesis that sometime between the mid-18th and 19th centuries "population" came to displace "territory" as the primary object of governance, this talk proposes that perhaps no displacement was necessary, given that the governance of population became a primary vehicle for territorial conquest and management, especially through the device of settler colonialism. Looking at mid-twentieth-century Kenya, this talk examines, firstly, how media, architecture, and aesthetics supported the merging of civilian and military functions within the colonial settler's person and practices, and, secondly, how architecture and media helped transform the displaced--the colonized--into biopolitical agents of territorial management. Underlying this history is the unsettling ambiguity of modern constructs of citizenship, which are often founded on notions of the political self as an agent of territorial proprietorship.

Ginger Nolan

University of Southern California

Ginger Nolan is a historian and theorist of architecture and urbanism. She received her BA in Comparative Literature, from Brandeis University, M.Arch from MIT and PhD in Architectural History & Theory from Columbia University. Her scholarship examines intersections between nootechnologies, design aesthetics, and constructions of race. Before joining the University of Southern California, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Basel University’s department of Urban Studies. She has also taught at Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts, and she was a teaching fellow at Columbia University’s Institute of Comparative Literature and Society. Her research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, the Terra Foundation of American Art, and the Graham Foundation of Art and Architecture. She pursues collective forms of scholarship through her involvement with the Global Architecture History Theory Collaborative and with Aggregate’s Systems and the South group. Nolan is the author of The Neo-colonialism of the Global Village (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), which examines the influence of colonial technopolitics on Marshall McLuhan’s conception of “the global village”. She has a second book forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press provisionally titled “Savage Mind / Savage Machine: Design, Technology and the Making of Magical Thought”. Her articles and essays have appeared in Grey Room, Architectural Theory Review, The Journal of Architecture, Perspecta, Log, Volume, Thresholds, Avery Review, and e-flux.