Internal Empire : The Neoclassical Architecture of Racial Capitalism

Moreno, Louis. 2022. Internal Empire : The Neoclassical Architecture of Racial Capitalism. In: Kelly M. Rich; Nicola M. Rizzuto and Susan Zieger, eds. The Aesthetic Life of Infrastructure: Race, Affect, Environment. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, pp. 43-59. ISBN 9780810145504 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The environments built by racial regimes are not only hostile they are liable, Cedric Robinson teaches us, to “collapse under the weight of their own artifices”. This chapter draws on Robinson’s insight to reconsider the recent interest in the unstable relationship between infrastructure and architecture in the early period of global capitalism. From the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, colonisation established plantation systems which appropriated land as property and enslaved African people as real estate. Overlaying this, an aesthetic taste for neoclassical architecture crystallised - enshrining the plantation in a humanist system that placed the metropolitan control of nature at its centre. Here we investigate the designs of Thomas Jefferson to consider how neoclassical architecture not only gave colonial infrastructure material support and political form, it established an underlying mode of psychic exploitation that formed the spatial terms of racist order.

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Book Section

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Copyright © 2023 by Northwestern University. Published 2023 by Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.

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Visual Cultures


December 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

27 Jan 2023 12:07

Last Modified:

01 Jan 2024 02:42


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