Labour, Efficiency, Critique: Writing the plantation into the present-future with Dr. Stefan Ouma

This talk is based upon collaborative work with Dr. Saumya Premchander. In our collaboration, we call upon critical labour scholars, including labour geographers, to feature what sociologist Palmer that the push for efficiency, as made possible by digital technology, needs to be analysed in terms of its historical lineage as well as in terms of its geographical scope. Centreing efficiency in critical labour studies, necessitates three scholarly moves. These are particularly relevant for labour geography, a field that has so far tended to circumvent questions of coloniality/labour, digital Taylorism, and the politics of (re-)writing economic geographies, in by-passing the literatures that deal with them. The plantation, an analytical category and ontic reality that stretches across several yet often unconnected bodies of literature – literary studies, Black Geographies, Caribbean studies, and the Black Radical Tradition, as well as in Global History – is central to our effort. Eventually, writing the plantation into the technological present-future can be the starting point for a larger and historico-geographically informed critique, in economic geography and beyond, of efficiency – a mode of thinking-cum-praxis based on input–output calculations, objectifying practices, violent value extraction and the removal of undesired ‘social frictions’ for the sake of capital accumulation.